Encouraged by warm reviews, The Public Theater twice extended Suzan Lori Parks' In the Blood, her modern take on "The Scarlet Letter." But the play will not be extended further, and Blood will close on Dec. 19 as scheduled.
Charlayne Woodard began playing the Hester role Nov. 2. Official opening was Nov. 22 at the Susan Stein Shiva Theater in the Public's digs at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," In the Blood was to have concluded Dec. 5.
The new work is described as "the complex and provocative story of an unwed mother's struggle to raise her children while holding onto her own belief in love." It's considered a "riff" on the Hawthorne classic about a woman scorned (for adultery) by her community. Earlier, original director Marcus Stern was sidelined with a serious knee injury and replaced by David Esbjornson.
The cast includes Rob Campbell (Public's As You Like It), Gail Grate (Public's The America Play), Bruce MacVittie, Reggie Montgomery (The America Plays) and Dierdre O'Connell (Signature's Mud). Woodard is known for her roles in Broadway's Ain't Misbehavin', the Public's Twelfth Night, and her one-woman shows, Neat and Pretty Fire.
Designers for the production at the Susan Stein Shiva Theater are Narelle Sissons (scenic), Elizabeth Hope Clancy (costumes), Jane Cox (lighting) and Don DiNicola (sound). Director Esbjornson directed The Ride Down Mt. Morgan for the Public, and recently staged Maria Irene Fornes' Mud and Drowning for the Signature Theatre.
Parks' plays include Venus and The America Play (both staged by the Public), Devotees in the Garden of Love, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom and The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World. She penned the screenplay for Spike Lee's "Girl 6."
In the Blood tickets are $45. Call (212) 239-6200 for information.
--By Robert Simonson
and Ken Jones