In the Blood


UIC Theatre

I have never studied or trained to be a theatre (or theater) critic. And yet, I am about to review a play I went to see today at the UIC Theater. I saw In the Blood because I love going to the UIC Theatre to see plays produced by our university. Well, I’m on campus anyway, so it’s very convenient. And not many people I know like going to plays anyway. And the people I know who like plays never seem to be available at the same time as me. So, I always see the plays at the UIC Theatre alone. Well, not actually alone. I mean, there is an audience that includes other people besides me. Occasionally, I meet students I know and we chat a while. But otherwise, I go alone.

Well, In the Blood is loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter that I had to read in high school but didn’t because I too busy rebelling as an adolescent. But I did read it years later, on my own and again in college as part of my English major. For some reason, I still remember the story well. The play I saw today merely took the principal elements of The Scarlet Letter and juxtaposed them in our era. The updated Hester Prynne becomes an African-American single mother on welfare. And she also has a child out of wedlock. Five times. With five different fathers. Much to her disgrace! The father of her fifth child is an African-American minister who is afraid the scandal would ruin his success with his flock who have just constructed a new church. Shades of Pastor Arthur Dimmesdale indeed!

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I’m not really sure whether or not I liked the play. I spent most of the play recalling The Scarlet Letter in order to make a connection with In the Blood. There were enough allusions to Hawthorne to keep me interested. And there were also enough original ideas and controversial topics to keep the play engaging. I did enjoy the set that suggested the ambience of the residence of the homeless who lived under a bridge. The set was vaguely reminiscent of the homeless when they lived on lower Wacker Drive years ago. But the play could take place in just about any large American city.

David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.
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