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African American Repertory Theater/Carol Piersol Race

By • Dec 3rd, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Race
African American Repertory Theater: (Info) (Web)/Carol Piersol
Virginia Rep Center – Theatre Gym, Richmond, VA
Through December 21st
$25/$10 Students, RAPT (Plus Fees)
1:20 without intermission
Reviewed November 29th, 2013

I saw Carol Piersol and African American Repertory Theatre’s production of Race, directed by Bill Patton, on its opening night. The word race has several definitions. I wasn’t aware of the play before seeing it, so I was thinking of racing cars. I was wrong! It is about race as in ethnicity. This was a delightful surprise. Not saying there’s anything wrong with race cars, but it’s not exactly my thing. This is why I looked forward to the play when sitting in the audience: not a race car in sight.

I went to this production with my friend Greg. Greg and I are of different ethnicities, he is African-American and I am Caucasian. Being teenagers we waited until the last-minute to go in and sit down, but there was music playing to set the mood and the house appeared to be at almost capacity. The theater is a small black box setting, which is perfect for an up close audience experience.

The plot follows a Caucasian man accused of raping an African-American woman. He may or may not be a lawyer shopping for a firm to represent him in the way he sees fit. The subject of rape evolves into the subject of race. Everyone is exposed for their underlying, even subconscious, feelings.

Joe Inscoe assumes the role of Charles; a rich, white, racist, sexist man with ease. Katrinah Carol Lewis as Susan; the recently hired, just out of law school lawyer, was the most influential character to me. She added a twist of not only racial tension, but a sexist factor, both with strength and emotional vulnerability. In doing so, she portrayed her role magnificently. Charles and Susan display the tensest relationship even when not on stage together. He is the accused rapist, who finds her attractive, and she is a woman who thinks he is guilty based on his behavior and her own notions of race and sex.

Billy Christopher Maupin (Jack) and d l [sic] Hopkins (Henry), the two lawyers asked to take on Charles’ case, both create racial sensitivity in the play. Jack is Caucasian and Henry is African-American. These two have a bond that racial prejudice cannot break. While they show their own prejudices and strengths, they have a mutual respect, even as the dialogue reveals truths that are not often spoke. I give both praise for a worthy task.

Sometimes the actors had pauses between lines as if they did not know whose turn it was to speak and there was some stuttering of words that didn’t flow like natural speech, but that might have been opening night jitters and working out the kinks in front of a live audience.

Set design, by David Allan Ballas, converts the tiny stage into a large law office. Adding seats and books and a desk create a vivid picture. It sucks you into the office with the characters. Light design, by Michael Jarrett and Cody Richardson, make the stage “office bright,” yet almost a cold brightness. The window, in the set, is used brilliantly with lighting to show the passage of time in the day. They create marvelous effects, seamlessly.

If you are planning to go out with your family and children and are looking for a light-hearted show this holiday season, Race is not for you. There is much use of strong language. If you are looking for a GREAT performance that will leave you with a lot to think about and talk about for hours, as my friend Greg and I did, this is the show for you.

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by African American Repertory Theater

The Cast

  • Jack: Billy Christopher Maupin
  • Hanry: d l [sic] Hopkins
  • Susan: Katrinah Carol Lewis
  • Charles: Joe Inscoe

The Crew

  • Director: Bill Patton
  • Stage Manager: Sarah Stepahin
  • Assistant Stage Manager:
  • Scenic Designer: David A Ballas
  • Lighting Design: Michael Jarrett and Cody Richardson
  • Costume Design: Sarah Grady
  • Producer: Carol Piersol
  • Associate Producer: Billy Christopher Maupin
  • Scenic Charge: Kevin Johnson
  • Scenic Painter: Christina Delli Santi

Disclaimer: African American Repertory Theater/Carol Piersol provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is a freshman at Thomas Dale High School’s Specialty Center for the Arts in Chester, Va. He is also a member of HATTTheatre’s HATTBox Players. He was most recently seen in Virginia Repertory Theatre’s To Kill A Mockingbird and HATTheatre’s Over The Tavern. He is extremely passionate about acting and plans to see his passion through high school, college, and career.

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