I’m so glad I didn’t let the critics negative review of the play RACE, stop me from checking it out. So, on April 7th my best friend, Robin, and I stood in a long line of theater patrons hoping to score tickets and… it payed off.
Race is a contemporary play, written by David Mamet, about a wealthy white man, Charles Strickland, who is accused of raping a black woman. In a strategic move, to counter any potential negative impact of race on the outcome of his case, Strickland seeks legal assistance from a notable law firm that has an infamous legal team of two attorneys, Jack Lawson, a white attorney and Henry Brown, a black attorney. What Strickland doesn’t know is, when he is not around, the lawyers and their beautiful, young black female legal assistant, Susan, struggle through their own biases, assumptions and challenges of dealing with racism and racist issues both in Strickland’s case and in their relationships with each other.
Every new detail that surfaces about the case challenges the “Dream Team” to peel through a layer of racism. At one point, Jack Lawson decides to re-create the rape scene and expects Susan to wear a reproduction of the rape victims red, sequined dress in a court room to re-enact the crime. Susan, who was hired through an Affirmative Action initiative, refuses to wear the dress and begins to explore the “politics” of her appointment with the firm. Susan discovers that Lawson ordered background checks on the firms only African American employees, Susan and attorney Henry Brown, the other half of the “Dream Team”. This, Susan points out, is illegal but, she decides to keep quiet about this criminal act and use it as her “trump card” to access power in the firm.
The exploration of race deepens as the attorneys, who can bond on their maleness, but, have very different perspectives on evidence, events and strategy’s when looking at it through the lens of race. As the attorneys skillfully banter about white guilt and black shame they eventually come to separate but equal agreement that, even in this day and age, power, privilege and perspective are the invisible bricks that separate whites and blacks and makes genuine trust… elusive. Nevertheless, the dream team decides to set aside their differences and focus on winning the case… until a seemingly irrational move by the client brings the play to a spectacular end!
Brilliant…is the a word I would use to describe this play! For 90 uninterrupted minutes I sat on the edge of my seat, eyes fixed on the stage, which only had minimal props, a boardroom table and a few chairs, as the amazing cast of actors examined the complex, sensitive and multi-faceted issues of RACE.
BRAVO! Somebody really gets it and is bold enough to raise the questions and spark dialogue about the most uncomfortable issues of RACE!!!
Thank you Canadianstage! Thanks to David Mamet (play-write) , Daniel Brooks(Director), Jason Priestly (yep! Beverly Hill’s 90210 fame) who plays Jack Lawson, Nigel Shawn Williams (who plays attorney Henry Brown), Cara Ricketts (who plays Susan), Matthew Edison (who plays Charles Strickland) and their Creative Team.
RACE is currently playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto until May 5, 2013.
Thank You for visiting BONDFIRES!