Sunday, November 24, 2013

How I Learned What I Learned ***

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Signature Theatre is presenting the New York premiere of this one-man show, written and first performed by August Wilson in 2003 in Seattle. Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who has a sterling record interpreting Wilson's work, portrays him in this set of reminiscences about being a young black man in Pittsburgh in the 1960's. The pieces range from comedic to contemplative. Some are poetic, others are angry. Santiago-Hudson, a charismatic performer, gives them their due. Set designer David Gallo projects the name of each sketch typed on a backdrop of hundreds of sheets of paper hanging from wires. The rough wood platform with rusty stairs on which the performance takes place rests on a layer of urban detritus. Costanza Romero did the costumes. Wilson expert Todd Kreidler's direction is fluid and assured. The format runs the risk of monotony and the vitality of the sketches does take a dip midway, but then it returns to its initial high level of interest. All in all, it makes for a short but worthwhile experience. Sadly, there were very, very few blacks in the audience. Running time: one hour, 20 minutes; no intermission.

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