Sunday, September 15, 2013
stop. reset. *
I wish playwright/director Regina Taylor had taken the advice of her title. As it is, her play makes a strong case for a playwright not directing her own work. Another pair of eyes and ears might have turned this shapeless mess into something more coherent or, better still, persuaded her that it was not ready for the stage. It starts out as an office drama about which of four cardboard stereotypes, an Asian woman (Michi Barall), an older black woman (Latanya Richardson Jackson), a white man (Donald Sage Mackay) and a younger black man (Teagle F. Bougere) will be laid off by their boss (Carl Lumbly) as the black publishing house he heads seems doomed for failure by the digital age. Then it veers off into science fiction when the janitor (Ismael Cruz Cordova) turns out to be an avatar from the future. Got that? I am always suspicious when a play longer than 90 minutes is performed without intermission, suggesting the fear that the audience might not return after intermission. In this case, the fear was well-founded. Neil Patel's set is fine, but Shawn Sagady's projections of quotations, definitions and what-not were a distraction. Maybe that was the intent. I'm not sure what statement costume designer Karen Perry was making by giving one the characters shoes with individual toes. Finally, I think is was presumptuous for Taylor to give herself first billing in the "Who's Who in the Cast." While iconic playwrights like August Wilson and Horton Foote might deserve that honor, Taylor is clearly not in their league. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes; no intermission.