Before I even begin to describe the play, let me talk about the unusual stage setting for “This is Not the Play”, written by Chisa Hutchinson and currently being performed through May 31, 2014 at Cleveland Public Theatre. The stage area is surrounded on four sides by tiered seating. The set is divided into differently labeled sections with phrases such as “Home Life Melodrama”, Passion Plays”, “Early Childhood BS”, “Public Education”, “Caucasian Crap” and etc.
Throughout the stage area are piles of props much like you would find in an untidy antique store. This represents the inner mind of the black playwright who has been tasked with writing a play about white people starring white people. “This is Not the Play” is the process involved in trying to understand the cultural differences in order to discover the truth.
The first character to appear is a young woman, White Girl #1 (played by Rebecca Frick) that is given the name “Indigo” who is blond “pretty and quirky”. After some discussion with the playwright (a disembodied voice coming from multiple directions) Indigo is joined by White Girl #2 (played by Jessica Annunziata) who is to be romantically involved with Indigo. The two characters refuse to cooperate with the playwright to the point where she sends in her literary agent to straighten them out with veiled threats that one or both of them may die in the play.
After seeming to set things straight Indigo hits the literary agent on the head with a fry pan and they tie him up on a chair. The playwright then takes matter in her own hands by banishing the literary agent and Indigo and confronting Mary (White Girl #2). It is then we learn that Mary was the victim of numerous attacks by blacks while attending public school as a youngster. The playwright then brings Mary’s mother who reveals the real story about the attacks and later dismissal from Princeton where Mary was an honor student.
Prude Alert: There is quite a bit of language along with racially sensitive words used as well as same sex relations dialog that the more sensitive among us might find objectionable. There is also minor violence. If this upsets you, you may wish to pass.
Beefs and Flubs: This is a well acted play with a terrific cast. The timing is sharp, especially with the blackouts between scenes. I could find no fault with this production.
Shooting From The Lip (In My Opinion): Although billed as a comedy there is a deep undercurrent of serious drama that is food for thought. This is a show that asks some pointed questions about how two races (black and white) truly feel about each other and the lip service we sometimes give to mask our authentic inner feelings. See this for the laughs but stay for the thought.
This is Not the Play stars Katrice Headd (as Playwright), with Rebecca Frick (White Girl 1), Jessica Annunziata (White Girl 2), Bobby Coyne (The Man) and Laura Starnik (White Woman).
“This is Not the Play” was written by Chisa Hutchinson. The CPT production is directed by Emily Ritger, CPT New Play Associate.
Complete creative and production team includes Emily Ritger (Director), Inda Blatch-Geib (Set Designer), Greg Falcione (Lighting Designer), Carolyn Dickey (Costume Designer), Mike Tutaj (Sound Designer), Becky Cummings (Stage Manager) and Anne Bakan (Wardrobe Assistant).
Ticket & Show Information
“This is Not the Play” runs through May 31, 2014. Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday at 7:00 p.m. in CPT’s James Levin Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102.
Tickets are $12 – $28.
All Thursday and Monday shows are just $12! Student and Senior discounts ($3 off) are available for Friday and Saturday performances.
**Every Friday is FREE BEER FRIDAY at CPT. Audience members are invited to mingle with the artists after the show and enjoy a drink or two on CPT.**
Tickets are available for purchase www.cptonline.org or by phone at (216) 631-2727 x 501.