It's one thing for Susan-Laurie Parks to have written the play The Year of the Plague (Community Theatre, through April 30), but she's putting it on in a production that was largely delayed, ironically, because the cast contracted COVID. Parks, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama, shared the stage with eight performers who portrayed her husband, son, best friend, celebrity, police officer and colleague, dead and alive, in various ways. . They are accompanied by an excellent orchestra.
The show lasts for about three hours and takes place at Joe's Pub in the Public Theatre. While fries with mayonnaise or beetroot hummus can enhance the ambiance of an event during a cabaret show, an aperitif or cocktail can be more intact when watching a plague-year show . It is not an easy material to destroy.
Carrying a guitar, Parks envisioned the show as an attempt to "witness" what happened to him and the world during the pandemic. The show, he hopes, is like a "ghost light" in the theater, a symbol or sign that any art is preserved. He decided to write a play one day, but what we see on stage is far from a complete play. These are more fictional moments, some from her life with her husband and son, others inspired by major political and cultural events. It's an epidemic mix, a style of review that mixes the terrifying and the familiar, "a celebration of the unbearable," as Parks puts it. Covid herself is a bejeweled diva whose hands and cloth mask make you recoil.
Topdog/Underdog – The Brightest Show on Broadway
Everywhere he sings, laughs, thinks and even talks with his music. The works about the plague years are reflective, angry, funny; You may find yourself saying, "We were there" and "I remember that happening."
We flash back to Ahmed Arbery, Breonna Taylor (played by Daniel Fulton, handing out flowers to the crowd) and the murder of George Floyd, and the outrage and activism that followed, in a refrigerated truck that once housed a Brooklyn morgue. . Banners hung in the air indicating the increasing death toll as the epidemic progressed. Illustrious people who died at that time appear: Larry Kramer, RBG and John Lewis. Depictions of racism, police violence, black resistance, black identity, and voter suppression. We hear about Trump, Biden, the election (but not Fauci).
Then there is the everyday: the feeling of victory in March 2020 when you buy and find toilet paper. Endless sprays of hand sanitizer. no hugs Abbreviation for contact. Online education. Online communication is blocked. Mask: where to find it? (Remember when they were nowhere?)
Parks is determined to give voice to his thoughts and experiences, which, especially if they die (including medical characters), can have a powerful rebirth. He rebels against the "black cops" who control what he says, resenting the toxic nature of television work; Keep in mind that January 6th is not only known as Trump's coup on Capitol Hill, but also the day he began writing the book Topdog/Underdog . (Parks may be too modest to talk about it here, but the show's Broadway revival last year was fantastic and should be celebrated at this year's Tonys, along with its stars Corey Hawkins and Yahya Abdul-Mateen.)
Production ramps up throughout the year, reminding us just how dense and hectic the news cycle has become, and the implications of living in sudden turmoil. We briefly remember the friends and loved ones Parks lost just as he and his family were transitioning to a new normal.
Meanwhile, her husband's covid-related illness worsens, and adult actor Leland Fowler plays their son: he wants attention, he wants space, he wants them close when they're gone. We see Parks return to work on television, where the six-foot rule is enforced in a regimental fashion. In all the events that concern you personally and are familiar to us on the television news, there is a strong sense of isolation created by the epidemic, a sense of brokenness that still lingers.
Some stories are powerful, others are disposable; Sometimes it hits, sometimes it doesn't. To lighten the load, the nonsense is delightfully arranged, such a short and sharp parody of the English idiom, suave family cares and small talk. The program is a cesspool and I wish there was more time for some things, like the effect my husband's illness has on him, on her, on his family. Instead, the intense flow of her story turns into flashbacks, and much of what Parks says is poignant to watch, depending on how her life has changed, who she's lost, what she's lost (or what she's missed). Work: Parks and her husband found a happy haven in Atlanta) and how it was affected by cultural and political upheaval.
Parks is also a master performer whose love of music, intellect, wit, and miswriting come together in the show. We see him arguing with his muse and wondering what is the point of writing this work. Write a summary? The work is both an epiphany and a self-examination for the screenwriter and the writer; While covering the show, Parks also clarifies who she is and what she isn't (among them: Sidney Poitier, Betty White, Don't Right, Belle Hookey).
Ultimately, Parks suggests that making the show, as we're here to see it, is a testament to the art that brings people together. You know how difficult it can be to see or understand; It is still very recent and very ongoing. The plays are not a cure or doom for the plague years , but a notebook, very personal to Park, yet recognizable to those who turn the pages with him.
“I believed that the theater would save us. But you will not. Not in the way I thought. But somehow it saves us,” he says.
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