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SJ Hannah

The Poor of New York

April 30, 2019

One of the theater's most skilled 19th-century melodramatists, Boucicault was uninterested in the finer points of history, character development, or narrative objectivity which, of course, is why, as the Metropolitan Playhouse's lively revival of "The Poor of New York" demonstrates, his works are often so much fun. That doesn't mean they're untruthful; it's just that Boucicault wasn't prone to letting a bunch of cumbersome details and ho-hum dramaturgical considerations get in the way of a good story or a necessary cause. But if you're aching to learn how Andrew Jackson's monetary policies and the peculiarities of his personality might have contributed to a downturn in the American economy, there's always the hope Aaron Sorkin will eventually write that play. [more]

Hercules Didn’t Wade in the Water

May 20, 2018

"Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water" is the winner of the Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.’s 2017 Emerging Playwrights Competition and this is its premiere. Michael A. Jones’ passionate eloquence and the strong performances compensate for the production’s limited presentational values.  [more]

On Strivers Row

June 9, 2017

Like in a Noel Coward comedy, the witty zingers come fast and furious: “That her big white Cadillac looks like a pregnant Frigidaire,” “Did you say she was from Newark or Noah’s Ark?”, “Harlem has gotten to be such a cesspool of nobodies,” “You can’t raise a rose in a junkyard,” “The ribbon around your neck is loose. Tighten it.” It also offers some very wise statements on the relationships between men and women: “women grow old from neglect and not from age,” “Regardless of how bad we women look in the morning, Oscar, we never wake up needing a shave,” “She loves the ground he staggers on.” However, the play also makes clear the rivalry between various Black enclaves: Harlem, Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. Dolly, Tillie and Mrs. Pace make pronouncements on the classiness of each. [more]