New Suzan-Lori Parks Play Gets an A: Public Theater Drama Extends

News   New Suzan-Lori Parks Play Gets an A: Public Theater Drama Extends Suzan-Lori Parks' provocative new work at The Public Theater opened March 16 to mixed-to-positive reviews, and will extend a week to April 6. The show, which began previews on Feb. 25 was to have closed March 30.
S. Epatha Merkerson and Susan-Lori Parks at the opening night party for Fucking A.
S. Epatha Merkerson and Susan-Lori Parks at the opening night party for Fucking A. (Photo by Aubrey Reuben)

Called Fucking A, a title which some newspapers are refusing to print, the new play is at the Public's Anspacher Theater. The Brechtian piece is set in a bleak society in the future devoid of comfort or kindness, where women are victimized on multiple fronts, female sexuality and biology are discussed only in a foreign tongue called "The Talk" and more people are in jail than walk the streets.

S. Epatha Merkerson, the "Law & Order" star with a theatre background, stars as Hester Smith, an abortionist who has taken up her line of work to make enough money to feed the "freedom fund" and spring from son, Boy, from jail. Boy was imprisoned at an early age for stealing a piece of meat from the house of the area's colonialist mayor. Since then, he has evolved into an incorrigible convict named Monster.

Also in the cast is Mos Def, playing the vicious and vulnerable Monster, Daphne Rubin Vega as the Mayor's official mistress Canary Mary and Bobby Cannavale as the pompous Mayor, who is obsessed with producing an heir. Michael Greif directs.

The cast also includes Susan Blommaert, Peter Gerety, Jojo Gonzalez, Jesse Lenat, Manu Narayan, Chandler Adrian Parker and Michole Briana White.

The play is in part a new take on "The Scarlet Letter," the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel that also inspired Parks' In the Blood. The show includes 10 original, Three Penny Opera-like songs by Parks, which are laced throughout the text and sung to the audience, presentational style. The singing talents of Rubin-Vega and Mos Def, both recording artists, are exploited, and musicians are part of the experience. The song list is as follows:

"Working Woman's Song" (sung by Merkerson and Rubin-Vega)
"My Little Army" (sung by Cannavale)
"Hunter's Creed" (sung by the cast)
"Gilded Cage" (sung by Rubin-Vega)
"My Vengeance" (sung by Merkerson)
"My Little Enemy" (sung by White)
"A Meat Man Is a Good Man To Marry" (sung by Gerety)
"Hard Times" (sung by Mos Def and the cast)
"The Making of a Monster" (sung by Mos Def)

Merkerson appeared in the Broadway productions of Tintypes and The Piano Lesson before taking the role of a top cop on "Law & Order."

Mos Def, known as a rap singer, made the jump to the legit stage when The Public's staging of Topdog/Underdog moved to Broadway in 2002 after a run downtown in 2001 (Don Cheadle starred Off Broadway in the role Mos Def would eventually take over). Jeffrey Wright appeared both downtown and on Broadway in that 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner by Parks.

Daphne Rubin-Vega was the original Mimi in Rent, which was directed by Greif, and starred in Two Sisters and a Piano at the Public Theater with Bobby Cannavale.

Tickets are $45. For more information, call (212) 239 6200 or consult www.publictheater.org.