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A CurtainUp Review
God ent really figurin this side a the fence/ y'know?— Dawta
Born Bad is a speeding train of a play, going at full speed from start to finish; a family zooming towards disaster all within the period of a day — or in theater time, one hour. In the opening scene, a young woman forcefully, repeatedly, tells her seemingly meek father to "say it." He stays silent. Immediately following, she is accusing an older woman, her mother, of exactly what, we don't know. The tone between them is piercing and angry. It's less than five minutes into the play, and already the tension is through the roof.
Crystal A. Dickinson
Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)
The cast is a six-person black, British family — a mother and father, and their three children. Each new scene introduces another family member. Their relationship to each other, and to the family issue is what's at play. It won't be revealing too much to say that the conflict is about a past of sexual abuse. Still, there are many unexpected emotional twists and a constant stream of the complex story.
Although the speed of the production is perhaps a little too nonstop — especially when taking into account the British shorthand and slang throughout that is not a given here in the States — the play itself, and the commitment of the performers shines brightly. When watching Born Bad one has a sense that the playwright (the up-and-coming British debbie tucker green) has actually used maybe a couple of hundred different words, with the plot and emotions moving forward by the ways she folds and unfolds these phrases on themselves, creating new meanings and nuances all along. Her skill with language, with phonetics, really, is superb. The cast has really mastered the script, all creating their own interstices within the dialogue.
Born Bad's short length of an hour works in its favor. Much more, and the consistent fervor on stage would have become relentless. As it is, the play is a perfect example of what makes SoHo Rep a theater to always pay attention to, a company not afraid to commit to a play and it's intentions, no matter how controversial or difficult the material.
Written by debbie tucker green
Directed by Leah C Gardiner
Cast: Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Crystal A Dickinson, Elain Graham, LeRoy James McClain, Michael Rogers, Heather Alicia Simms
Production Stage Manager Beth Stegman
Lighting Designer: Michael Chybowski
Scenic Designer: Mimi Lien
Costume Designer: Paul Tazewell
Sound Designer/Original Music: Matt Sherwin
Dramaturg: Raphael Martin
SoHo Rep., 46 Walker Street, , www.sohorep.org 212 941 8632
From March 31 - April 24, opening April 7
Tuesday through Sundays @ 730pm,
Reviewed by Amanda Cooper based on 4/5/11 performance
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