The Death of the Last Blackman in the Entire World, a.k.a The Negro Book of the Dead is playing at the Signature Theatre located at 480 West 42nd Street. It runs seventy five minutes with no intermission.
Suzan-Lori Parks is the playwright. She won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002 for Topdog/Underdog. She is the first Africa Americans to achieve this honor. It was nominated for a Drama Desk and Tony Award in 2002. In 2015 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Father Comes Home From The War Part 1, 2 & 3.
The setting is here and the time is the present.
Black man with a watermelon (Daniel J. Watts) is sitting in front of the stage with his head down before the show starts.
Different characters come on the stage, there back is to the audience. When the characters turn around they are stereotypes and tropes attached to people of color throughout history and literature. For example Zoot Suit, Hooded Man, Aunt Jemima, Lena Horne etc.
The main characters are Black man and his wife Black women with Fried Drumstick (Roslyn Ruff). She tries to feed him a drum stick then she wipes him down. He was hanged years ago. Is she imaging that he is there. She tells him that he has been dead longer than they were married.
The cast keeps saying the last black man died in 1315. Write it down and put it under a rock so you can’t say it did not happen.
From time to time they say if Christopher Columbus had not found the world was round things would have been okay. When people thought the world was flat no one went anywhere.
All I can say is this a quirky play. It is no your conventional play. I felt there was more than what was spoken and you have to think at what was said. I would see it again to see if I missed anything. It is an interesting show but I do not think this play will appeal to everyone.
The cast does a great job. Daniel J. Watt and Rosalyn Ruff do an outstanding job.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for recent photos. Click on a photo, then click on back to the album and finally click on back to the gallery for this and other shows.