Theatre Review: “Race”
David Mamet’s “Race,” directed by Bill Patton and presented by Carol Piersol and African American Repertory Theatre, is a very short, intense play in which a wealthy white business man, Charles played by Joe Inscoe, has been accused of raping a black woman. Charles has hired a pair of lawyers to represent him after being turned away by his usual council.
As the plot develops it becomes apparent that Charles may have made the decision to hire lawyers Jack and Henry, played by Billy Christopher Maupin and d.l. Hopkins, as a strategic move because Jack is white and Henry is black. Also part of the legal team is Jack’s mentee Susan, played by Katrinah Carol Lewis, who is also black.
The rest of the play is basically the three lawyers debating Charles’s innocence or lack thereof, as well as making several observations about race and gender roles and how these issues still permeate much of our daily interactions, even if we don’t mean for them to. There are numerous twists and revelations that keep the audience intrigued. The only problem that I find is that a lot of crucial plot changing information takes place out of sight from the audience,. Occurring either in the other room or over the phone which makes the action in the play a bit anticlimactic.
I find Mamet’s script to be intelligently written but unnecessarily verbose a majority of the time. I understand that these are lawyers we are talking about, but there just comes a point in the play where you want to roll your eyes at the heavy use of legal jargon Mamet’s employs. While many of the issues brought up in the play are thought-provoking, it becomes a bit tedious watching the lawyers squabble.
All four actors are supremely talented, evenly cast, the definition of a strong ensemble. Maupin and Hopkins are the perfect partnership, their relationship feels authentic. Maupin gives a fantastic performance as Jack, delivering his lines with snarky precision and conveying genuine hurt when his character feels he’s been betrayed. Hopkins’s portrays the no-nonsense Henry hilariously and plays off Maupin wonderfully.
David Ballas’s set is very chic, not too fussy and very open. Sarah Grady’s costumes are well-tailored and look expensive, although I was worried that Katrinah Carol Lewis’s heels may be a bit too small as she seems to grab onto a piece of the set every time she walks across the stage, looking to be a bit uncomfortable.
“Race” is playing at Theatre Gym at VA Rep through December 21st.
www.va-rep.org/RACE.html for information.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
The African-American Repertory Theatre is producing Race, a courtroom dramedy about ethics and, well, race. It’s been well received and should be a good show for those who enjoy fast-paced dialogue riddled with intense drama. It goes without saying that the show will make you think, but it will almost certainly make you laugh. David [...]December 5, 2013
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