|Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-02 01:18Z by Steven|
The New York Times
Ben Brantley, Chief Theater Critic
Walking on a stage covered with cotton balls is a tricky business. It’s all too easy to slip into a pratfall. And forget about running or dancing or hopping like a bunny, as the characters sometimes unwisely attempt in “An Octoroon,” Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s coruscating comedy of unresolved history, which opened on Thursday night at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn.
But it feels right that the people occupying this production, first seen last year at Soho Rep, should be required to move on what might be called terra infirma. For Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins has deliberately built his play on slippery foundations, the kind likely to trip up any dramatist, performer or theatergoer.
“An Octoroon,” you see, is all about race in these United States, as it was and is and unfortunately probably shall be for a considerable time. That’s race as a subject that no one can get a comfortable hold on.
Directed by Sarah Benson, in a style that perfectly matches its mutating content, “An Octoroon” is a shrewdly awkward riff on Dion Boucicault’s “The Octoroon” (notice the change in article), a 19th-century chestnut about illicit interracial love. Boucicault’s melodrama was a great hit in its day but is now almost never performed, except possibly as a camp diversion for private amusement.
Read the entire review here.