“SUFFS” Review: We Heard One Note When Security Stepped Outside to Smoke, and It Felt Disjointed
by Zach Raffio. @zachraffio.
NEW YORK, NY - SUFFS, the Public Theater’s new musical showcasing the long struggle for voter equality in America, has quickly become one of NYC theatre’s hottest tickets. We couldn’t get one ourselves, but we did stake outside of the theater for a recent performance, catching a single note as one of the security guards opened the door and slipped out for a cigarette.
And, we’re sorry to say: the whole thing was more than a little disjointed.
The note - which was unmistakably performed by one of the cast members of the show - sounded great. But the whole thing felt stripped of context, lacking an explanation for its place in this larger story.
If you’re going to tell a tale as expansive and vital as the women’s suffrage movement, you’d better be explicit in detail. Even if it’s for someone putting their ear up to the door with a drinking glass like a 2003 sitcom. TELL THE STORY RIGHT OR DON’T TELL IT AT ALL.
For a show with a powerhouse cast including Phillipa Soo, Jenn Colella, Nikki M. James and the show’s multi-talented scribe Shaina Taub, many didn’t seem to have much to do. This might have been because they weren’t literally singing or speaking during the 1.3 seconds of the show we experienced. That said, perhaps it’s a symptom of a greater issue: we couldn’t see nothing. Don’t hide your talent behind several large walls. Let them be seen.
Finally, WHAT was going on with the security guard? She took a call while smoking and it sounded like her son Elijah didn’t pick up the dry cleaning, and they have a wedding tomorrow! Come on Elijah, your mom was counting on you. She works so hard for you and your brother. It’s unrelated to SUFFS, but in some ways, it’s more important than anything else.
So there you have it: a blink-and-miss-it moment that left us confused, unsatisfied, and wondering about the two hours, 44 minutes, and 58.7 seconds that take place on opposite ends. Perhaps seeing the full show would provide a different experience (it’s happened before), but for now we can only go off of what we did experience. And that was a very quick musical mouth-noise attempting to service decades of brilliant work by brave women. Do better (to both the show and Elijah).