Ramapo’s production of ‘F*cking A’ proves educational

The theater department put on the play “F*cking A” by Suzan-Lori Parks last weekend. The play is originally based on “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The 90-minute production portrays dark and serious themes mixed with a bit of foul language. 

Director and professor of theater Peter Campbell wrote about the relevance of the play’s content in an essay included in the program titled “The Importance of Making Space for Difficult Things.” In it, he explains the larger meaning behind the play when he writes that the audience will “witness a corrupt prison system, the complex role of abortion in patriarchal and misogynistic society, and the shamelessness of those in power.”

Before the show started, the cast stood together in front of the audience and discussed the theater’s and the play’s rules. One thing that I found important was when they said, “This is not what the world has to look like.” That line stuck with me throughout the show and made me realize the real message behind the production. 

The 19-scene show opens up with an introduction to Hester, played by Paras Patsalos, who is a tough woman and an abortionist. In the first scene, she shows off and explains the red “A” — which represents her job as an abortionist — branded on the left shoulder of her white shirt. The audience later learns that she began at the abortionist job so she can earn the money to bail out her son, who has been in jail for 30 years.

The play is full of messy relationships, secrets and deception. There’s the affair that the Mayor, played by Andrew Eichhorn, is having with sex worker Canary Mary, played by Elizabeth LeBoeuf, because he wants to leave the First Lady, played by Denys Henriquez, for having infertility issues. The First Lady ends up later getting pregnant by a criminal on the run called Monster, played by Mason Bell. This, of course, gets back to the Mayor eventually.

In the end, Monster visits Hester, reveals himself as her son and demands money. Their relation is confirmed by the matching scars on their arms that Hester revealed earlier she marked her son with when he was arrested.

The production ends with Hester giving the First Lady an abortion. Monster revisits Hester when he is being chased by three hunters. He asks Hester to kill him before the hunters do and she does.

The play also included a few short and funny songs. “Gilded Cage,” sung by LeBoeuf, included violin and was sung nicely. Other instruments involved in the performances included the piano, accordion and cello.

Other songs, like “My Little Army” and “A Meat Man is a Good Man to Marry,” made audiences laugh with their funny aspects and innuendos in them. “My Little Army” is performed by Eichhorn after speaking to the First Lady about having his children. “A Meat Man is a Good Man to Marry” is performed by Butcher, played by Andrew Hobbie, while Hester visits him. The comedy surrounding the darker tone of the performance added some lightness to the show. 

An interesting aspect of the show is the parts where the women speak in a different, gibberish-type language while discussing abortion or other topics relating to women’s bodies and experiences. This language was one that the male characters in the show couldn’t understand, but the translations were projected on a screen above the stage for the audience. Sometimes what they were saying caught some viewers off guard and caused a few laughs from the audience.

Overall, “F*cking A” was a fascinating and educational production. Every actor and performer did a great job. The production covers serious topics that should be discussed more often.



Featured photo courtesy of Ramapo Theatre