Reviews are rolling out for Brooklyn Academy of Music's revival of Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, which held its press opening February 27. Leading the cast as Sidney and Iris Brustein are Golden Globe winners Oscar Isaac (Hamlet, Moon Knight, Scenes from a Marriage) and Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Big Knife, Othello) in the Harvey Theater. Previews began February 4 and production held its red carpet opening night February 23.
In the work, Hansberry delivers a portrait of a marriage and delves into the complex tensions between their unrealistic ideals and the reality of 1960s Greenwich Village. Obie and Lortel winner Anne Kauffman (The Thugs, Mary Jane) directs the seldom-seen work which also explores the complexities of predominantly white bohemian intellectuals and activism. Kauffman previously directed the play at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in 2016. As Brosnahan says, the work still "feels modern" nearly 60 years after it was written because “those same conversations feel like [the ones] we’re having today.” Isaac adds, “It’s speaking to people that feel a bit disenfranchised by the whole political game.” He also calls the play Hansberry’s “call to care.” Read more about how Brosnahan and Isaac are taking on the work and its questions here.
Read the reviews here.
America Magazine (Rob Weinert-Kendt)
Entertainment Weekly (Christian Holub)
New York Stage Review (Frank Scheck)
New York Stage Review (Melissa Rose Bernardo)
New York Theater (Jonathan Mandell)
The New York Times (Jesse Green)*
Theater Pizzazz (Carol Rocamora)
The Wall Street Journal (Charles Isherwood)*
The Washington Post (Peter Marks)*
*This review requires creating a free account or a paid subscription.
Playbill will continue to update this list as reviews come in.
Also starring in the cast are Gus Birney, Julian De Niro, Glenn Fitzgerald, Andy Grotelueschen, Miriam Silverman, and Raphael Nash Thompson. Joey Auzenne, Gregory Connor, Brontë England-Nelson, and Amelia Pedlow are understudies.
Bringing The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window to life as part of the creative team are dramaturg Arminda Thomas, scenic designer dots, costume designer Brenda Abbandandolo, lighting designer John Torres, sound designer Bray Poor, wig designer Leah Loukas, props master Andrew Diaz, vocal coach Kate Wilson, and casting director Taylor Williams.
Lorraine Hansberry died just three months after The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window began its debut on Broadway in 1964. But even in her last days, she was revising the script from her sick bed based on notes brought over from the theatre. The work, in some ways, can be considered unfinished—Hansberry faced so many challenges in its final stages. That’s one of the reasons it’s not as well-known as her A Raisin in the Sun. BAM's production is its first major New York revival.
“We are in dire need of Hansberry’s voice...we know so little of her, and define her by one play: A Raisin in the Sun. Without a doubt, Raisin is a masterpiece, but Hansberry’s evolution and contribution to this country's culture, history and political motion stretches way beyond that astonishing accomplishment," said Kauffman in an earlier statement. "Her work as an artist and activist is varied and deep. The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, written four years after A Raisin in the Sun, embraces human complexity and frailty while aggressively shaking us free of our delusions, yet very few people know of it. Now they’ll know.”
BAM has also created in-person and online experiences about Hansberry, including talks, an exhibit in the Harvey Theater lobby curated by BAM archivist Sharon Lehner, and online educational tools.