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The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center

Confederates

April 12, 2022

Dominique Morisseau’s "Confederates," her second play of her Signature Theatre Residency 5, is a clever, but overly talky dissertation on race, power and family.  She offers the audience parallel stories alternating between the Civil War era and modern day academia. The contemporary plot involves Sandra (Michelle Wilson, solid), a Black political science professor who is the victim of a racist insult. A period photograph of a slave wet nurse, white infant attached to her breast, was altered to superimpose her head on the slave’s.  Finding the culprit spurs Sandra to think about the precariousness of being a Black woman in academia. [more]

The Hot Wing King

March 6, 2020

“Spicy. Cajun. Alfredo. With Bourbon Infused. Crumbled. Bacon” is the hoped-for path to victory for the pivotal Memphis cooking competition in award-winning playwright Katori Hall’s uplifting "The Hot Wing King," where comedy and drama deftly converge. Strained relationships, personal despair and camaraderie among gay and straight black men are all dramatized in this rewarding contemporary work that has echoes of the wit and pathos of Mart Crowley’s "The Boys in the Band." [more]

Happy Talk

May 19, 2019

Abrasive as a subpar episode of Maude and reaching a sour psychological thriller-style finale out of Craig’s Wife, Happy Talk is playwright Jesse Eisenberg’s muddled family drama.  It’s the 1990’s and the New Jersey Jewish matron Lorraine is playing Blood Mary in a community theater production of South Pacific and so in addition to the jokey title we get a barrage of painfully cute musical comedy references. Scene transitions are accompanied by blaring snippets of Mitzi Gaynor who played Nellie Forbush in the film version. The combination of Mr. Eisenberg’s smug sensibility, inane contrivances, shtick-ridden dialogue, condescended-to characters, and slack construction all make it a tiresome one hour and 45 minutes. [more]