#18. I’ve had to fire two people in my career. It’s always difficult. The ick factor is a chart buster. On one of the occasions, my former employee tried to sue me for racial discrimination. He had no case and it was dismissed. But the idea still haunts me. How are my actions and words being perceived? Can I say that joke? What’s the difference between funny and offensive?
Goodman Theatre presents RACE. Jack is white. Henry is black. They are partners of a prestigious law firm. Charles is an affluent white businessman. He is accused of raping a black woman. He has come to Jack and Henry’s firm for help. Susan is an associate at the firm. She is black. Is Charles guilty of being a racist or a rapist? Each person is assessing the situation based on the color of skin. Each person is acting on the situation based on their own color of skin. Racial discriminating, profiling, and stereotyping are in the workplace. And everyone is on trial. RACE is an envelop-pushing, thought-provoking, stomach-churning, earful!
Playwright David Mamet is a master of dialogue-based drama riddled with humor. His signature style provokes controversy. And RACE is particularly evocative. Under the direction of Chuck Smith, the in-your-face banter is loud and powerful. Set in a conference room, the talented ensemble accuse each other in an ever-shifting swirl of honor. Who is innocent in this war of words? Marc Grapey (Jack) is a fast and smooth talking attorney. Grapey hits all his comedic moments with slick style. With a flair, he transforms from unflappable cocky to flustered disbelief. Geoffrey Owen (Henry) is the blunt-talking problem solver. Unapologetically, he sees everything in black and white terms. Owen delivers his lines with hilarity and just a touch of Cosby. (Owen use to do an impression of Bill Cosby on the 1980’s sitcom). The chemistry between Jack and Henry & Grapey and Owen is a given. Mamet offers no real backstory on their union. I like that! And Grapey and Owen demonstrate a genuine partnership based on respect despite racial differences. Both Charles Strickland (Charles) and Tamberla Perry (Susan) stoke the flames of tension with degrees of likability and hate. This cast will get under your skin!
RACE kept me riveted. ‘You let your color jump on your intellect!’ Do I? Did I? RACE points fingers at the white men, black man, and black woman. Perhaps, my enjoyment of the show was based on being a white woman.
Needing chocolate to get through it, Shawn describe it with ‘am I racist?’
Running Time: One hour and forty minutes includes an intermission.
At Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn
Written by David Mamet
Directed by Chuck Smith
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays at 7:30pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays at 2pm
Thru February 19th
Buy Tickets at www.goodmantheatre.org