Native Son

Critics

LemonMeter

87 %

Reviews: 19

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

Richard Wright's iconic novel about oppression, freedom and justice comes to life on stage in this ground-breaking adaptation. Suffocating in rat-infested poverty on the South Side of Chicago in the 1930s, Bigger Thomas struggles to find a place for himself in a world whose prejudice has shut him out. After taking a job in a wealthy white man's house, Bigger unwittingly unleashes a series of events that violently and irrevocably seal his fate. Adapted with theatrical ingenuity by Nambi E. Kelley, this Native Son captures the power of Wright's novel for a whole new generation. April 12 – June 3; $15-$34; Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205; (818) 506-1983 or www.antaeus.org.

Reviews

Ellen Dostal
"That sound you hear underneath Jeff Gardner's volatile sound design just might be your own heart beating wildly in your ears. It would be impossible not to have a strong reaction to Nambi E. Kelley's adaptation of Richard Wright's novel and that is certainly intentional. Directed with a calculated willfulness by Andi Chapman, and with the full measure of the classical theatre company's pool of talent behind it, the play bluntly asserts its influence in igniting a conversation about race, class, and oppression, and staunchly remains in your face for its 90-minute duration."

sweet - Ellen Dostal - BroadwayWorld Los Angeles - ...read full review


Erin Conley
"Native Son is an important and interesting play that perhaps has larger ideas than it is able to execute well, but nonetheless makes a strong statement that still resonates today."

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Avatar
"Andi Chapman directs. She sets the work on a wide, shallow playing space, which makes the story feel constantly vibrant, propelling the characters and the audience into rapidly unspooling events... The debate continues, just as this production remains in its audience's eyes and ears long after the actors' well-earned bows."

sweet - Dany Margolies - Daily News - ...read full review


Avatar
"While the Native Son presented by Antaeus still packs a wallop and is well-acted and directed throughout, retaining much of Wright's power, the excision of Boris Max is eyebrow-raising."

sweet-sour - Ed Rampell - Hollywood Progressive - ...read full review


Avatar
"Antaeus' production is one of their strongest in recent memory: Director Andi Chapman has composed a haunting urban symphony of sound, light, fury and pathos."

sweet - David Maurer - Culture Spot LA - ...read full review


Avatar
"...this is a powerfully engaging and dynamic production, featuring an ensemble that does excellent work under Andi Chapman's direction. The production's design elements are top notch and skillfully integrated. - RECOMMENDED"

sweet - Lovell Estell III - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar
"Director Andi Chapman has taken Kelley's script and has run with it, too often at a faster and more confusing clip than it deserves. The results are uneven and the aspired-to effects somewhat truncated, some by choice, and some perhaps by technical or monetary constraints."

sour - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Ron Irwin
"Whatever Native Son may be without doubt it is powerful and thought provoking. It raises far more questions than answers but it severely provokes thought. So if having your mind stimulated and your thoughts provoked is entertaining for you than this show Native Son is a show you will not want to miss."

sweet - Ron Irvin - LA Post Examiner - ...read full review


Avatar
"Kelley's one-act is brutal, harsh, and relentless. Complex in structure, cinematic in style, it delivers cruelty and ignorance, desperation and despair: human characteristics all worthy of artistic exploration and told here with the benefit of excellent production design."

sweet - Keri Tombazian - 94.7 FM The Wave - ...read full review


Avatar
"Director Andi Chapman keeps the action moving at a breathless pace with the assistance of a talented cast. Edward E. Haynes, Jr.'s scenic design is foreboding, an excellent depiction of how Bigger perceives his life and times. With the aid of Andrew Schmedake's lighting, Adam R. Macias' video design, and Jeff Gardner's sound, South Chicago becomes a haunted place, a place of rats and blizzards. Wendell C. Carmichael's costumes add an air of authenticity to the time and place. NATIVE SON is a thought-provoking presentation which suggests that some things may not change."

sweet - Elaine Mura - Splash Mags - ...read full review


Avatar
"The anachronistic timeline, simple set, and specific staging complement one another expertly to create a complicated, nuanced, and dynamic portrait of a man trapped by white supremacy."

sweet - Francesca O'Hern - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman
"....the harbinging sound we hear is of a locomotive clattering through a gray, indistinct urban landscape. It's the first of designer Jeff Gardner's many stunning aural effects — one element of this technically tour-de-force production....."

sweet - Deborah Klugman - StageRaw - ...read full review


Tin Pan L.A.
"In high school Richard Wright's 1940 novel Native Son was required reading, the book about a young African American man living in poverty in 1930s Chicago who kills, rapes, and then is sentenced to death. Everything that happens in this book is heavy and dark, truth be told I wasn't entirely sure what to make of this disquieting tale back then. Now years later this book takes stage at Antaeus Theatre Company in Nambi E. Kelley's 2014 adaption, and even now this stage version still conjures up these same unsettling emotions but now with resounding clarity because the unfortunately many of the scenarios from this story resemble issues that riddle our society even today. "

sweet - Tin Pan L.A. - ...read full review


Steven Stanley
"Richard Wright's 20th-century classic Native Son is ill-served at Antaeus Theatre Company by Nambi E. Kelley's 21st-century stage adaptation's temporal zigzags, sledgehammer approach to issues of race, and the addition of a “character” not found in the original novel."

sour - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


David MacDowell Blue
"Calling this play a polemic against racism cannot be enough. It achieves more than that paltry if ethical goal. This play made real and supremely personal the tragedy of a human life, a life mine no less than the writer of the novel, or the play, or the actor who brought him forth. It is a challenge, felt and tasted not as an idea but a visceral wound."

sweet - David MacDowell Blue - Night Tinted Glasses - ...read full review


Avatar
"Many attendees to the theatre these days may embrace progressive ideas and ideals. "Native Son" creates an opportunity to examine our own basic instincts and limbic reactions encountering what may be even surprising and unexpected deep emotions. "

sweet - Michael Sheehan - On Stage Los Angeles - ...read full review


Avatar
"Kelley's adaptation is both meticulous and expansive. Director Andi Chapman has assembled a phenomenal company of actors...Director Chapman brilliantly creates a cohesive universe. The fusion of sound, image, movement, and performance makes it hard to single out the source of individual creative contributions."

sweet - Samuel Garza Bernstein - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis
"Native Son stays pretty close to the source material with modern improvements and a talented cast that shouldn't be missed."

sweet - Patrick Chavis - LA Theatre Bites - Podcast - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"In a word, theatre doesn't get any better than this. It's a requiem for an America that's still very much alive."

sweet - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


Ellen Dostal
"That sound you hear underneath Jeff Gardner's volatile sound design just might be your own heart beating wildly in your ears. It would be impossible not to have a strong reaction to Nambi E. Kelley's adaptation of Richard Wright's novel and that is certainly intentional. Directed with a calculated willfulness by Andi Chapman, and with the full measure of the classical theatre company's pool of talent behind it, the play bluntly asserts its influence in igniting a conversation about race, class, and oppression, and staunchly remains in your face for its 90-minute duration."

sweet - Ellen Dostal - BroadwayWorld Los Angeles - ...read full review


Erin Conley
"Native Son is an important and interesting play that perhaps has larger ideas than it is able to execute well, but nonetheless makes a strong statement that still resonates today."

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Avatar
"Andi Chapman directs. She sets the work on a wide, shallow playing space, which makes the story feel constantly vibrant, propelling the characters and the audience into rapidly unspooling events... The debate continues, just as this production remains in its audience's eyes and ears long after the actors' well-earned bows."

sweet - Dany Margolies - Daily News - ...read full review


Avatar
"While the Native Son presented by Antaeus still packs a wallop and is well-acted and directed throughout, retaining much of Wright's power, the excision of Boris Max is eyebrow-raising."

sweet-sour - Ed Rampell - Hollywood Progressive - ...read full review


Avatar
"Antaeus' production is one of their strongest in recent memory: Director Andi Chapman has composed a haunting urban symphony of sound, light, fury and pathos."

sweet - David Maurer - Culture Spot LA - ...read full review


Avatar
"...this is a powerfully engaging and dynamic production, featuring an ensemble that does excellent work under Andi Chapman's direction. The production's design elements are top notch and skillfully integrated. - RECOMMENDED"

sweet - Lovell Estell III - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar
"Director Andi Chapman has taken Kelley's script and has run with it, too often at a faster and more confusing clip than it deserves. The results are uneven and the aspired-to effects somewhat truncated, some by choice, and some perhaps by technical or monetary constraints."

sour - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Ron Irwin
"Whatever Native Son may be without doubt it is powerful and thought provoking. It raises far more questions than answers but it severely provokes thought. So if having your mind stimulated and your thoughts provoked is entertaining for you than this show Native Son is a show you will not want to miss."

sweet - Ron Irvin - LA Post Examiner - ...read full review


Avatar
"Kelley's one-act is brutal, harsh, and relentless. Complex in structure, cinematic in style, it delivers cruelty and ignorance, desperation and despair: human characteristics all worthy of artistic exploration and told here with the benefit of excellent production design."

sweet - Keri Tombazian - 94.7 FM The Wave - ...read full review


Avatar
"Director Andi Chapman keeps the action moving at a breathless pace with the assistance of a talented cast. Edward E. Haynes, Jr.'s scenic design is foreboding, an excellent depiction of how Bigger perceives his life and times. With the aid of Andrew Schmedake's lighting, Adam R. Macias' video design, and Jeff Gardner's sound, South Chicago becomes a haunted place, a place of rats and blizzards. Wendell C. Carmichael's costumes add an air of authenticity to the time and place. NATIVE SON is a thought-provoking presentation which suggests that some things may not change."

sweet - Elaine Mura - Splash Mags - ...read full review


Avatar
"The anachronistic timeline, simple set, and specific staging complement one another expertly to create a complicated, nuanced, and dynamic portrait of a man trapped by white supremacy."

sweet - Francesca O'Hern - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman
"....the harbinging sound we hear is of a locomotive clattering through a gray, indistinct urban landscape. It's the first of designer Jeff Gardner's many stunning aural effects — one element of this technically tour-de-force production....."

sweet - Deborah Klugman - StageRaw - ...read full review


Tin Pan L.A.
"In high school Richard Wright's 1940 novel Native Son was required reading, the book about a young African American man living in poverty in 1930s Chicago who kills, rapes, and then is sentenced to death. Everything that happens in this book is heavy and dark, truth be told I wasn't entirely sure what to make of this disquieting tale back then. Now years later this book takes stage at Antaeus Theatre Company in Nambi E. Kelley's 2014 adaption, and even now this stage version still conjures up these same unsettling emotions but now with resounding clarity because the unfortunately many of the scenarios from this story resemble issues that riddle our society even today. "

sweet - Tin Pan L.A. - ...read full review


Steven Stanley
"Richard Wright's 20th-century classic Native Son is ill-served at Antaeus Theatre Company by Nambi E. Kelley's 21st-century stage adaptation's temporal zigzags, sledgehammer approach to issues of race, and the addition of a “character” not found in the original novel."

sour - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


David MacDowell Blue
"Calling this play a polemic against racism cannot be enough. It achieves more than that paltry if ethical goal. This play made real and supremely personal the tragedy of a human life, a life mine no less than the writer of the novel, or the play, or the actor who brought him forth. It is a challenge, felt and tasted not as an idea but a visceral wound."

sweet - David MacDowell Blue - Night Tinted Glasses - ...read full review


Avatar
"Many attendees to the theatre these days may embrace progressive ideas and ideals. "Native Son" creates an opportunity to examine our own basic instincts and limbic reactions encountering what may be even surprising and unexpected deep emotions. "

sweet - Michael Sheehan - On Stage Los Angeles - ...read full review


Avatar
"Kelley's adaptation is both meticulous and expansive. Director Andi Chapman has assembled a phenomenal company of actors...Director Chapman brilliantly creates a cohesive universe. The fusion of sound, image, movement, and performance makes it hard to single out the source of individual creative contributions."

sweet - Samuel Garza Bernstein - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis
"Native Son stays pretty close to the source material with modern improvements and a talented cast that shouldn't be missed."

sweet - Patrick Chavis - LA Theatre Bites - Podcast - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"In a word, theatre doesn't get any better than this. It's a requiem for an America that's still very much alive."

sweet - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review