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Niegel Smith

Southern Promises

April 1, 2019

Playwright Thomas Bradshaw seems to have taken literally the dictum in theater to “Astonish!” His plays like "Burning," "Intimacy," "Job," and "Fulfillment," to name only a few seen in New York in recent years, are shocking, disturbing and an assault on both the actors and audience. In The Flea Theater revival of his 2008 play, "Southern Promises," director Niegel Smith seems to have taken this one step further. In this play about race relationship between masters and slaves set in 1848 Virginia, an antidote to the theory of the benevolent slave owner, the ten-member cast of The Bats, The Flea’s young repertory company, informs us that they are all people of color and that they do not have legacy of confronting slavery on their terms. Several of them reveal that they have had DNA tests performed and discovered that they are of mixed blood, making them both black and white. [more]

Hype Man: a break beat play

November 21, 2018

“Hip hop gave me my name” says Peep One, a captivating young mixed race woman who is a beat maker; the one who crafts the tune for a hip hop song. This is one of numerous pertinent details imparted in playwright Idris Goodwin’s exhilarating drama "Hype Man: a break beat play." Mr. Goodwin’s vision is theatrical, his dialogue is sharp, and he crafts a clenching scenario.  The title refers to the backup rapper who supports the star rapper by chiming in with his own declarations and stirring up the audience. [more]

Scraps

August 31, 2018

This production is presented by The Flea and the cast is drawn from their resident acting company, The Bats. Exhibiting heartbreaking resilience Alana Raquel Bowers as Aisha dominates the play. The captivating Tanyamaria is very funny yet conveys Adriana’s melancholy. With his lithe physique, sunniness and serene presence Michael Oloyede’s performance as Calvin is commanding. Roland Lane’s charisma and animation enrich his portrayal of the difficult role of Jean-Baptiste. [more]

Syncing Ink

October 11, 2017

Mr. Njikam offers a witty take on the classic mythology of a hero’s episodic journey with a lively African-American slant. There are a lot of high school and college scenes with wise teachers referring to James Baldwin and W.E.B. Du Bois, combative students, a dying father and an imperious mother. Rhyming battles, love and enlightenment occur along the way. The narrative is so eventful and spread out that it can be difficult taking it all in and its overall impact is diluted. [more]

Hir

November 9, 2015

Ms. Nielsen has long been a treasured award-winning fixture of the New York stage with her quirky idiosyncratic comedic and dramatic talents. Here as the omnipotent matriarch Paige she is colossal. With her animated features, giddy voice, and frantic physicality, she delightfully mines every bit of the abundant dark comedy in the play. Alternately when slowing down to express fiercely serious sentiments she is chilling. This searing performance is yet another memorable turn from this incomparable actress. [more]