THE RACE IS NOT TO THE SWIFT NOR THE BATTLE TO THE STRONG

Mamet speaks out again.

David Mamet. Yes. He tackles questions of race head on. He knocks you out. No nonsense. He slugs with jabs of ironic wit. Roaring laughs. He gets inside your brain, making you ponder, wonder, question. Pay attention, damn it. You don’t want to miss anything. And you very well might get it all at Omaha Community Playhouse because director Amy Lane and her dynamic cast nail to the wall the entire essence of Race. 

This exercise in black and white deals not just with skin color but the questionable absolutes of truth and justice. It vibrates with conceptions and pre-conceptions.

Cut to story. Wealthy white guy Charles Strickland has been accused of raping a black woman. She made the claim. He seeks court-room protection from lawyers Jack Lawson (white) and Henry Brown (black) who have new assistance from young Susan (black. No last name). She’s just joined the practice. This launches 90 or so intermission-sliced minutes into ticking, explosive questions about guilt, innocence, shame, conscience, truth, justice, sexism, paranoia, press sensationalism and, of course, various strains of racial bias. You might think that this is some kind of heavy load to bear. But no, the words, the thoughts, the ideas keep on zipping by. Grab them on this darkly shadowed merry-go-round.

Timing, pacing, using every inch of the space and digging deep into the meaning of the words, director Amy Lane gets it all right. So does Doug Blackburn whose Jack crackles with intelligence and sardonic precision. Andre McGraw as Henry has sturdy humor and unrelenting strength. Brennan Thomas’s take on Strickland stays totally real, suggesting innocence even while armored by his assured privileged class membership. Susan is played by Jonnique Powers. She does well by seeming overshadowed and subservient in this male-dominated territory. But she has attitude inside that frame.

As usual, Mamet’s language is peppered with expletives. They and all the other words serve an intense purpose: to get us to ponder our own roles in a society where our own perceptions of race continue to color our behavior.

Don’t expect easy resolution. You may be provoked to grip the edge of your seat but, as a witness, or a man or woman in some kind of jury, only after you’ve had time to breathe outside that office are you likely come up with some kind of conclusion about what really happened there. Plus what really happened in the unseen room where the rape may have taken place. But then maybe not. Think it over, pal.  

Race continues through June 8 at Howard Drew Theatre, Omaha Community Playhouse,6915 Cass St. Thurs-Sat: 7:30 p.m. Sun: 2 p.m. Tickets: $21-$35.www.OmahaPlayhouse.org

posted at 11:50 am
on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

COMMENTS

(We're testing Disqus commenting (finally!); please let us know if you have trouble.)

comments powered by Disqus

 

« Previous Page


Portraits of the artists as no longer young

Omaha’s Ellen Struve has written a very clever, frequently amusing play Untitled Series #7. And, at Shelterbelt, director Roxanne Wach keeps it unceasingly alive, especially given a standout, dynamic...

more »


Entertaining and Educational

The male usher smiled when I handed him the ticket and suggested that my gender would leave me massively outnumbered in the audience.

At intermission, it’s not unusual to see a long line outside the...

more »


Theatre magic for all ages at The Rose.

The Rose has risen to the occasion. It offers a superbly staged, colorful production of a charmingly original, often comic 2012 Broadway hit, Peter and The Starcatcher. During this seasonal time of...

more »


The wild, wild mid-West

Bluebarn Theatre has opened its doors to a raucous holiday trip. True, this is a previously owned vehicle, but the new mileage gotten out of must be called a gas. Little Nelly’s Naughty Noël is a...

more »


SNAP takes up a worthy theme

Genuine, truthful performances by two pre-teen girls do a lot to get the best out of Marilynn Barner Anselmi’s world -premiering Mama’s Girls presented by SNAP Productions. 

The major focus of the...

more »







Advanced Search