Some one-person shows have one character. Some have many characters. "Emergency," currently at The Black Rep, has one actor and many characters. Like most one-person shows, it's more storytelling than drama, though it has moments of theatrical excitement, thanks both to playwright Daniel Beaty and actor Ron Conner.
My friend the playwright/producer Joan Lipkin (of That Uppity Theatre Company fame) once remarked that theatre in St. Louis was mostly about real estate. What she meant was that there are far more theatre companies in town than there are spaces in which they can perform.
Let’s face it, the villain is the most interesting character in a play. Without a worthy opponent, there’s little suspense. Villains can’t afford to be wishy-washy. They thrive on conflict. They love to concoct schemes to squash the competition. The skewed logic of villains can be seductive. (Aren’t we quick to rationalize our own behavior?)
The Black Rep's world premier of Steve Broadnax and Michael Bordner's "Smash/Hit" is neither an off-the-chart success nor a box office flop, but it has the chance to develop into a solid hit. Building on the tradition of popular music as cultural touchstone, the show weaves original songs throughout its narrative. The varying lyrical quality and roughly mixed beats reveal not only a drive to share our stories with others, but an attempt to gain understanding, affect behavior and change lives through music.
Other than the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the period immediately following the end of the Civil War is not a subject commonly covered in books, art or theater. I had never given much thought to this fact, myself. But, after seeing "The Whipping Man," a play by Matthew Lopez currently on stage at The Black Rep, it's a wonder that this confusing, uncertain period isn't the setting for more stories.
In the lobby of the Grandel Theater, home of The Black Rep, there is a display case full of photographs, books and memorabilia from 1968, the year Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
The fine people at the Black Rep bring us another quirky, intelligent, original offering in "Insidious".
In the Black Rep production of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," the cancers of racial inequality and overt cruelty are laid bare with a finessed, punch-to–the-gut impact, one that left me with a renewed sense of outrage for a brand of casual racism that must never, ever be tolerated again.
One-person plays are not my favorite kind of theatre. But after the hour and a half of No Child . . ., I could almost have sworn that I'd seen more than a dozen people on The Black Rep stage.
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a delightful play in its own right, but in the hands of the amazing director Chris Anthony and the superb choreographer Heather Beal, the Shakespeare favorite is transformed into a production that rocks to a disco beat.