Ny Times


September 12, 2017

The two women sharing a late-night tipple call things as they see them, and that includes each other.

“Whore!” says the gaunt figure with the branded chest and the bloody apron, played by a raw-faced Christine Lahti. Her companion, who wears a curve-hugging yellow dress (and is embodied by Joaquina Kalukango), replies in kind: “Baby butcher!”

And with that exchange of salutations, they clink their glasses and sing a cheerful song of grim endurance. “It’s not that we love what we do, but we do it,” they trill darkly, informed by the dubious confidence that while the society they inhabit may revile them, it can’t do without them either.

This stark musical moment occurs in the first scene of the Signature Theater’s compelling revival of a Suzan-Lori Parks play first staged in New York 14 years ago. It’s a forthright, comfortably uncomfortable vignette that offers an early and reassuring sign that those involved with this vibrantly reincarnated work know what they’re doing, as surely as the whore and the baby butcher (or abortionist) do.