We round up the reviews for Kwame Kwei-Armah’s play, which continues to run at the Young Vic Theatre until the 5th August.

(c) Johan Persson

The Guardian: *** “Always engaging, the play never quite ignites. Kwei-Armah’s dialogue often lands squarely on the nose, and the fervid culture wars rhetoric remains thin. The playwright’s own production can feel staid, lining up academics across the stage. It is jolted by Joseph’s collection of lividly racist memorabilia – masks and figurines from the Jim Crow era. They sit like wounds in Debbie Duru’s sober interior: both a reproach and a spur, they are reminders of how far the characters have travelled, of what they still carry, of how readily Black identity can be dragged back or disfigured.”

The Telegraph: *** “Kwame Kwei-Armah’s A Raisin in the Sun spin-off takes on topical issues – but feels more like a debate than an organic drama.”

Evening Standard: **** “This British premiere, which Kwei-Armah also directs at the theatre he runs, features some superb acting. Not least from Skeete who plausibly ages 60 years through minor adjustments in her gait and her sublime hauteur. Newcomer Zackary Momoh is astonishingly, naturally watchable as Beneatha’s charismatic husband in the first half and her geeky protégé, a Nigerian petro-princeling, in the second. Sebastian Armesto pulls off a similarly impressive double as a gay CIA puppetmaster and a solicitous, sandal-wearing academic nonetheless prone to “whitesplaining”.”

Lou Reviews : *** .5 “Beneatha’s Place is an important addition to the discourse around racial politics, and features a strong coda where Zackary Momoh’s Joseph returns to his wife’s heart, while it makes an interesting addition to the world of Hansberry’s original play.”

Culture Whisper: *** “It may be cathartic to watch the play reverse up an awkward cul-de-sac of racial politics, but the writer-director unwittingly robs his own play of dramatic weight. Everyone but Beneatha is a cardboard moron. Complex ideas about decolonising academia and the responsibility to teach black history have an undeniable magnetism as soap-box moments, but not as theatre. Beneatha’s Place wears it’s heart on its sleeve, but it has no pulse.”

iNews: *** “What is unwaveringly clear is the strength and clarity of Skeete’s performance, as a young woman in love but adrift in this new country, with a husband who, under duress, is revealed as having some unpleasantly unreconstructed views on gender relations.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “As director, Kwei-Armah doesn’t resolve how to keep his own play’s momentum. Debbie Dru’s set is evocative but plain. It’s all quite straightforward and never quite escapes the shadow of the two plays that have inspired it. But those ideas do grip, compelling attention.”

The Upcoming: ***** “Regardless of one’s stance, Beneatha’s Place provides an opportunity for reflection on personal contributions to both history and the future. It takes you on a compelling journey of tragedy, resilience and the power of change.”

The Stage: *** “Play drawing on the classic A Raisin in the Sun is politically potent and pertinent, but dramatically undercooked.”

Time Out: *** “He has written some genuinely great plays, and you expect a playwright-artistic director to stage his own work. But the fact is that ‘Beneatha’s Place’ feels overshadowed, not only by ‘A Raisin in the Sun’, but also all the wildly inventive Black American writing about Black American identity that’s kicking around at the moment (see ‘A Strange Loop’ at the Barbican or ‘Tambo & Bones’ at TRSE). This is only the second play to receive a full run at the Young Vic this year, and it’s ultimately a pretty frustrating use of one of London’s great stages.”

To book tickets visit: https://www.youngvic.org/whats-on/beneathas-place


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