Ohio State Murders

By Adrienne Kennedy

James Earl Jones Theatre

Directed by Kenny Leon

Costumes by Dede Ayite, Lighting by Allen Lee Hughes, Sound by Justin Ellington, Projections by Jeff Sugg


Audra McDonald

Abigail Stephenson and Audra McDonald

Bryce Pinkham and Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald

Mister Fitzgerald and Audra McDonald

Bryce Pinkham and Audra McDonald

Your. Set. Captures.

Not. Being. Able to get. Your bearings

A. Landscape. Where you couldn’t. Find. Peace in

River too dark. Classrooms. Large barren all the professors white

Who seemed to be doing. A job.

Your. Set.

Certainly. All those. Feelings

And certainly. Books. We’re not. My friends as they had been

My mind. Could not rest. In them

The dorm with the political lines between. White girls

The. Black maids. And cooks and. The very. Young black students

Is so expressed in the buried. Books

A topsy. Turvey. Graveyard

Where I was unable. To. Understand. The society. I was supposed

To struggle through. For four years

Your. Set. Captures. It

~Adrienne Kennedy

“Beowulf Boritt’s set suggests a storm of research-library shelves, some suspended in midair and some half-buried in the ground, as though Suzanne existed in both the midst of a catastrophe and the ruins of one. The forces stacked against her extend to the back wall of the stage, which is gashed by a craggy ravine—the site of a winter homicide—behind which snow descends continuously. The chills that periodically shoot through this play are part of the same cold front as the steady, muffling whiteness that falls gently in its background.” ~ Adam Feldman, Time Out

“On stage in front of us is a stunning, meaningful design. Beowulf Boritt has constructed a frozen, tumbling cascade of shelved books, speaking to the learning and libraries, the atmosphere of academia—from its stone buildings to its labyrinthine buildings of learning—that first intrigue Suzanne. As well as a frozen garland framing the stage, they are embedded in it, forming seats and areas where characters can perch. And then, resembling a floor-to-ceiling crack in the middle of the stage, we see a ravine, a slash of a V—where, Suzanne tells us at the outset, one of her twin daughters was murdered. In the space created by the slash, snow falls at different velocities. Sometimes it is light, sometimes it is heavy, but it falls constantly.” ~Tim Teeman, Daily Beast

“I was enraptured by the production’s management of darkness, fit to match the pitch-black tinge of its material. Around McDonald swirl bookshelves in spiral patterns, some of them suspended in air; this is a nightmare of haute literacy and higher learning. Behind her is what looks like a crevice in a rock formation, through which the audience sees an unrelenting blanket of falling snow.” ~ Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker

“The nightmare is reflected in Beowulf Boritt’s grand and surreal set design, beautifully lit by Allen Lee Hughes.” ~Robert Hofler, The Wrap

“Bookshelves packed with legal texts fly through the air and melt into the floor, swirling around a giant chasm in the upstage wall — an abyss. From the moment we enter the newly renovated James Earl Jones Theatre for Adrienne Kennedy's Ohio State Murders, Beowulf Boritt's cataclysmic set confronts us with unimaginable disaster.” ~Zachary Stewart, Theatermania

“On Beowulf Boritt’s haunting set, enveloped in a paradoxically comforting blanket of perpetually falling snow, Suzanne unspools the details of her sad tale.” ~Peter Marks, The Washington Post

“Beowulf Boritt’s abstract set is composed of a labyrinth of hanging and standing bookcases, all positioned at weird angles. This comes off like the literary corridor into Suzanne’s worst nightmare—a “dark landscape” indeed.” ~ Michael Musto, Village Voice

“The set design by Beowulf Boritt, a suspended cascade of bookshelves, sharply lit by Allen Lee Hughes, might be too on the nose were it not so startlingly beautiful.” ~Naveen Kumar, Variety

“Beowulf Boritt’s set incorporates reality and fancy much as Kennedy does. Suzanne is surrounded by law library volumes, for instance, but the shelves are overhead and askew like cards thrown into the air in Alice in Wonderland. It’s a snowy day in Columbus, but we see the constant flakes through a gaping gash in the black back wall, the shavings of a consciousness being deconstructed before our eyes.” ~ Bob Verini, New York Stage Review

“Beowulf Boritt’s set, which features a deep crevasse flurried with constant snow upstage, and a whirl of books hovering closer to its edge.” ~ Juan A. Ramirez, Theaterly

“The drama is lent some weight by Beowulf Boritt’s borderline operatic set, with a split rock face in the back meant to evoke an all-important ravine alongside skewed bookshelves that cover the stage. In the gap between the rocks, snow rains down for almost the entire play and keeps us uncomfortable.” ~Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

“The design for this Broadway debut production is inventive and expensive-looking — Beowulf Boritt’s monumental set of library bookstacks floating in midair, and Jeff Sugg’s projection design, including excerpts of Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin,” cleverly projected in slivers of the set.” ~ Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater

“Surrounded by a backdrop of bookcases that look like they were pulled from a university library and set adrift in an anti-gravity chamber.” ~Christian Holub, Entertainment Weekly

“Beowulf Boritt’s fractured, dislocated set.” ~Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

“The actress is not alone on the book-strewn stage (designed with geometric panache by Beowulf Boritt)”~ Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times