Monday, October 14, 2013

Luce **

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
The publicity for JC Lee’s new play at LCT3’s Claire Tow Theater says that it is about a high-school student, adopted from the Congo ten years before, who has a secret. Unfortunately, this sounds more intriguing than it turns out to be. What we get is a look at a teenager reacting to the heavy burden of high expectations, abetted by the unconditional love of an overeager mother. I reacted with ambivalence to all the characters -- Luce (Okieriete Onaodowan), his parents Amy (Marin Hinkle) and Peter (Neal Huff), Luce's teacher Harriet (Sharon Washington), who makes an unsettling discovery about him, and Stephanie (Olivia Oguma), a girl Luce dated. Along the way, the playwright pokes mild fun at educational, parental and social-network doublespeak. Luce expresses the opinion that cultural diversity is often misused as a way to avoid treating people as individuals. For me, the play’s focus got lost in the shuffle. Timothy R. Mackabee’s multipurpose set features a blackboard that doubles as a scrim through which we see part of the family home. Kaye Voyce’s costumes seemed appropriate. May Adrales’s direction, so effective for The Dance and the Railroad earlier this year, worked no magic here. It made for an interesting, but ultimately disappointing, evening. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes; no intermission.

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