Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre

Sunset Baby will run through March 10, 2024 at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center.

By: Feb. 21, 2024
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Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre
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Signature Theatre just celebrated opening night of Signature Premiere Resident, Tony Award-nominee, and MacArthur Fellow Dominique Morisseau's Sunset Baby, directed by Steve H. Broadnax III. 

Sunset Baby highlights the collision of ideological conviction with the complexities of everyday survival in the story of a Black revolutionary's fraught reunion with his adult daughter.

Set in East New York, Sunset Baby explores the relationship between Nina and her estranged father Kenyatta. A former Black revolutionary and political prisoner, Kenyatta reappears to claim  a coveted piece of Nina's late Mother's legacy. While Kenyatta had visions of changing the world, his daughter became everything he feared. Now he's at her mercy for his own redemption. This is a story about love, political action, and one woman's journey from a brutal existence to her own liberation.

BroadwayWorld has collected the concensus from New York's biggest theatre critics below.

Photo Credit: Marc J. Franklin

Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre Sara Holdren, Vulture: These are meaty, complex questions and intriguing to ponder — Morisseau’s plays often sit atop fascinating historical strata, even if their dramatic construction tends to stick to the middle of the road. Sunset Baby doesn’t burst off the stage, but it keeps us intellectually engaged. What it offers for contemplation is the unglorious face of revolution, what Kenyatta calls “the man in the mirror.” That face is tired and worn, full of mistakes and unintended consequences, but Morisseau suggests that it is not the face of failure. It needs rest and grace; it needs to soften. The sun will rise again, and the revolution — unglamorous, daily, personal, imperfect — will continue.

Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre David Finkle, New York Stage Review: Morisseau is one of those rare playwrights who never lets an audience down. She doesn’t mar her record here. Listening to Kenyatta’s free-association outpouring as it introduces a character in barely contained quiet desperation, I was hooked — and stayed that way, or even more so, for the rest of the 100 intermissionless Sunset Baby minutes.

Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre Kyle Turner, New York Theatre Guide: Simone’s ghost haunts this work in a subtle way, shaping the rhythm of scenes and echoing in the actors’ voices. Ingram in particular, under director Steve H. Broadnax III’s elegant direction, makes you believe revolution is only a matter of time.

Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre James Wilson, Talkin' Broadway: As an early play by Morisseau, Sunset Baby does not have the dramatic complexity of later works such as Skeleton Crew, nor the fierce audacity of Confederates, but it still manages to get under the skin.

Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: Morisseau has become a much better playwright in the decade since she wrote this play. The action in “Sunset Baby” is driven by a plot that’s full of holes: Ashanti left behind a raft of letters that she wrote, but didn’t send, to Kenyatta, which are now in great demand from journalists and academics, who are apparently willing to pay a lot of money for them. Kenyatta wants them too; is it for the money? We aren’t sure at first.

Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre Brian Scott Lipton, Cititour: As we have all learned, the past inevitably bumps up against the present. Sometimes it’s a headache, sometimes it’s an opportunity, and sometimes it’s a bit of both. Such is the case of the long-overdue reunion between Kenyatta (the riveting Russell Hornsby), a former Black revolutionary, and his estranged daughter Nina (the magnificent, heartbreaking Moses Ingram), a small-time hustler, in Dominique Morriseau’s bracing 2013 drama “Sunset Baby,” now being given a superb revival at the Signature Theatre Company under Steve H. Broadnax III’s sure-handed direction.

Review Roundup: Dominique Morisseau's SUNSET BABY at Signature Theatre
Average Rating: 76.7%


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