Wednesday, October 9, 2019

reviews - THE ROYALE - Arizona Theatre Company

Bechir Sylvain and Erica Chamblee
photo by Tim Fuller
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 20

"Marco Ramirez's play The Royale... is an insightful reminder that there are possible negative circumstances to almost any positive action and that racial issues that were present over 100 years ago are, unfortunately, still very relevant today. With an excellent cast, Arizona Theatre Company's area premiere production is a quite moving and somewhat heartbreaking drama about a man who is trying to pursue his dreams while struggling with the reality of the world he lives in...Ramirez uses boxing and the story of Jay to show how one black man's struggle to succeed in a white man's world is representative of what many minorities face when trying to change things for the better while suffering the possible consequences or setbacks of their actions. The biggest opponent Jay faces isn't Bixby but the bigotry he and so many others were fighting against at the time of the play and what so many are still facing today....Ramirez's stylized play, under Michael John Garcés succinct and superb direction, uses a series of hand claps, foot stomps, vocal outbursts, and stylized movement to depict in a highly theatrical way the constant blows, both physical and verbal, that Jay and any individual potentially faces when trying to succeed in a world in which they are in the minority. However, as lean and taut as the play is, running just under 90 minutes, the last section, where we see how the match plays out in Jay's mind, doesn't quite have the impact it could if it were a bit less heavy handed. Fortunately, that's the only small drawback in an otherwise sharp and relevant drama....The Royale is a lean play with a much bigger message, depicting how one black man's personal struggle reflects the broader fight of minorities in the world around him. Arizona Theatre Company's production has a perfect cast and excellent creative elements which make for a thought-provoking, poignant, poetic and powerful play that resonates and stings in its impact and relevance."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"(Jack) Johnson's epic struggle of a man pitted against society inspired Howard Sackler's 1967 riveting Tony and Pulitzer Award winning drama, THE GREAT WHITE HOPE...Nearly fifty year later, the boxing legend's story inspired THE ROYALE ...Marco Ramirez's poetic and kinetic fable about a similarly conflicted but eminently courageous fighter, Jay Jackson.The two plays are equally compelling in their relevance, both as reflections on racism, individuality, breaking boundaries, and the complexity of personal relationships. ...While thematically it will surely speak to the audience's rage at the perpetual inequities and injustices of racism, Ramirez's script is thin and overwrought, even tedious at times, as the characters in Jackson's orbit recapitulate their assigned themes and the play becomes an echo of itself...the performances in this production, directed by Michael John Garcés, are surely forceful and compelling....Thanks to strong performances and technically proficient staging, THE ROYALE, while neither raging nor bullish, manages to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. - Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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