Tuesday, October 11, 2016

reviews - RASHEEDA SPEAKING - Black Theatre Troupe

Katie McFadzen and Lillie Richardson
photo: Laura Durant
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 23rd.

" In Rasheeda Speaking, playwright Joel Drake Johnson attempts to show how the combination of office politics and race relations can result in a probing and intriguing drama. Though the end result is not completely successful, Black Theatre Troupe's production of this drama has a stellar cast which helps offset some of the issues with the text....It begins with a conversation between Dr. Williams (Joseph Kremer) and his newly appointed office manager Ileen (Katie McFadzen), both who are white, concerning her African-American co-worker Jaclyn (Lillie Richardson), whom he wants to get rid of, claiming that "she just doesn't fit in." ....While we witness Jaclyn's rude and unprofessional behavior, which makes us believe she deserves to be fired, Johnson also creates situations which make us question if she is being unjustly targeted. ....While Johnson's play examines race and how power can be used and misused, and his dialogue is crisp and interesting, the points he tries to make about racism aren't exactly clear. If he is trying to show us that Jaclyn is being incorrectly maligned and racially targeted, then why does he have her also exhibit racist views and tell demeaning stories about her Mexican neighbors and also display rude and inappropriate behavior to Ileen and a patient of Dr. Williams? ....He also includes moments of humor that make us somewhat unsure of how we are supposed to take the actions we see.Director Matthew Wiener and his cast do a very good job in making Johnson's dialogue and situations both sound and appear intriguing. However, the fact that Wiener plays up the comical moments in the script make Johnson's intent harder to understand, though the cast is excellent in making their characters believable, both in the dramatic and humorous moments. Ranging from both defensive to sweetly mannered, Richardson is excellent in showing us two very different sides of Jaclyn. ...Richardson paints a superb picture of this tough, resilient, and exceptionally clever woman. Katie McFadzen is equally as Ileen, a passive woman who finds herself becoming a victim of the events that unfold around her. Joseph Kremer presents an even-measured portrayal of the dismissive and slightly condescending Dr. Williams...Pamela Fields does well in the smaller role of a patient...Rasheeda Speaking may not be a completely successful play but Joel Drake Johnson does create interesting characters and situations. While the play may not be as provocative as it could be, Black Theatre Troupe's very good cast helps present a humorous and interesting dynamic of the challenges of getting along with racially diverse co-workers. It may also make you examine your own racial views and ponder how there is a big difference between being friends with your co-workers and just being friendly." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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