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BWW Review: IN THE PENAL COLONY at New York Theatre Workshop

BWW Review: IN THE PENAL COLONY at New York Theatre Workshop

Franz Kafka's "In the Penal Colony" is the ambitious inspiration for New York Theatre Workshop's latest release.

With book and direction by Miranda Haymon, "In the Penal Colony" follows the lives of three black men in a penal colony who wrestle with their existence as people, and as objective beings.

The hourlong production Is ambitious. Supported by the lighting direction of Cha See and the set direction of Emma Finckel, theatregoers might leave the theatre ruminating over the show in more ways than one.

Though highly effective, being unfamiliar with Kafka's work might be a mistake. Being free of context going into the show, I found myself wondering if the words of Haymon were being spoken, or the words of Kafka himself.

The actor's in the show waste no time getting physical onstage. The men- portrayed by Jamar Brathwaite, David Glover and Dhari Noel - perform a serious of exercises rigorously from the time the show begins. The exercises are peppered with various step dancing as well. This mix of drills and dance is powerful, and should be applauded.

The show's primary object is highlighting how black men are exploited not only in sports, but the media as well. The three actors strip down their regulation uniforms to address the audience towards the end. Their cry of "Come and help. Come and help. Come and help," resonate loudly. In the era of "Black Lives Matter," "In the Penal Colony" is a relevant and ambitious piece of work.

"In the Penal Colony" runs at Next Door at NYTW from July 11th-28th. For more information, please visit

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