Here’s what’s onstage this summer– beginning with TWO productions right now in Boston– and 11 MORE farther out, courtesy of my colleague ED SIEGEL at THE ARTERY!
SMART PEOPLE— a smashing world premiere production now at the Huntington Theatre Company’s Second Stage (Calderwood Pavilion) is the latest from the brilliant Lydia R. Diamond. You may remember STICK FLY. This is as entertaining, but more cerebral, deftly directly by Huntington’s artistic director Peter Dubois.
How racist are we? Is it wired into our brains? That’s the explosive question that blows this play apart and becomes a “Rorschach” for the characters and audience. It seems white Harvard neuro-psychiatrist Brian White (Roderick Hill) has come up with research suggesting that we are, in fact, biologically racist! His Chinese-Japanese-American love interest Ginny (Eunice Wong) is a psych professor studying a different facet of the racial divide among Asian-American women. Their friends are Jackson Moore (McKinley Belcher III) a black Harvard Med school intern who feels marginalized, and Valerie Johnston (Miranda Craigwell) an African-American actress with an MFA from Harvard’s A.R.T.
The four interact in increasingly loaded ways, romantically, psychologically, emotionally, as the action unfolds in flashback until the first scene snaps into focus as the last scene–with even more questions raised. Each character is sexier than the next–when Brian and Jackson strip down to their underwear in the locker room, they are perfect specimens in black and white. But don’t get distracted–Diamond’s dialogue is as sharp as her name, refracting the issue of race in a myriad ways, while cutting to the bottom line every time.
The set– a double decker tower of split quadrants and sliding panels and boxes is a sleek, chic, beautifully-lit prism for the action. And the performances– especially that of the lithe and lively Miranda Craigwell– are sure to be among the best of the new season. Wise up and see SMART PEOPLE– before it closes June 29!
As for GIDION’S KNOT— the final production of BRIDGE REPERTORY THEATER’s fledgling season–it’s well-acted by Olivia D’Ambrosio and Deb Martin as a teacher and her student’s mother. It is also smartly directed by Karen MacDonald. But Johnna Adams’ play comes unraveled at the very beginning. Built on a faulty premise that involves a teacher suspending a student, Gidion, for “writing” –which is disturbing (but obviously brilliant) beggars credulity. Wouldn’t any normal HS teacher have probed before punishing?? The play proceeds to knock down its paper tiger in the course of an hour; it hasn’t earned the right to talk about the issues it raises: teen suicide, maternal grief, political correctness. Through June 22 at the BCA’s Calderwood Pavilion.
Now–jump in the car and head out: Click HERE! for 11 more suggestions!