God slave America
A little over the top but still on-target, "American Ma(u)l" pits two American families against each other in a country that has turned back to slavery to solve its economic woes.
By ROBIN EISGRAU
An exaggerated, hyperenergetic polemic on racial issues in the U.S.,
"American Ma(u)l" takes a lot of risks and, for the most part, pulls them off.
Set in the fictional town of Near, the play tells the story of two families:
the Jeffersons, who are black, and the Franklins, who are mostly white (they
have a black son). They live next doot to each other and the Jeffersons'
young daughter, Juliet, is romantically involved with with the
Franklins' black son, named Wesson, and dumps him for the white son, named
Smith, causing much distress.
|Company: Reverie Productions.|
Written and directed by: Robert O'Hara.
Cast: Richarda Abrams, Chad Beckim, Colman Domingo, Susan Greenhill,
Suzette Gunn, Charles Karel, Greg Keller, Maurice McRae, Lloyd Porter, Ariel
Related links: Official site
|Culture Project / 45 Bleecker|
45 Bleecker St. at Lafayette
Previews start: April 12, 2003
April 14 - May 4, 2003
Suddenly the robotic, twentysomething
president announces that the only way to cure the country's failing economy
is to repeal the 14th Amendment and reinstitute slavery, throwing the lives
of the two families into upheaval. The Jeffersons go to Monticello to claim
a "presidential whiteness" exemption and wheelchairbound Mr. Franklin
suddenly walks and decides to burn a cross on the Jeffersons' lawn. Juliet
gets called up to report for her slave duties and decides to run away, as
Smith tries to convince his family to buy her.
To watch "American Ma(u)l" is to witness a performance that is so
hyperactive, it's almost cartoonlike more like Fritz the Cat than Spongebob
Squarepants. It's not for the politically oversensitive the word "nigger"
gets tossed around quite a bit, as do other words that some may find
What makes "American Ma(u)l" work is its biting sense of satire
and its intelligence, which fuses with parody to make the play a biting
commentary on the divisiveness of racial matters. The performances are vivid
and lively. It's a very physical play, most notably in the brilliantly
choreographed sequence where runaway slave Juliet gets caught and beaten by
The play riffs on history, showing key figures in
satirical light. It is a little long one imagines it could have
ended at several junctures before it eventually does but if you're up for
a wild ride through the chequered underbelly of American history, "American
Ma(u)l" will be quite an eye-opening journey.
|APRIL 24, 2003|
OFFOFFOFF.COM THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK
Reader comments on American Ma(u)l:
Post a comment on "American Ma(u)l"