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Thursday, September 14, 2017

"An Octoroon" @ Artist's Rep

There is line in "An Octoroon," which initially passed unnoticed. The actor playing the playwright, (of the current show, not the character listed as "Playwright" within it), laments white actors' reluctance to play slaves. What he does not mention is that those white actors are to play their roles in Blackface. "Uh...." was my reaction when the first white actor ambled on-stage. This reaction would repeat in my head many times throughout "An Octoroon." "Did he really just say that?" was a close-second. Your discomfort is most certainly planned, and I believe audience discomfort is a valuable thing to elicit in the theatre.  That said, it is a feeling that will not leave you until lights-down. If you're up for that, this is your show. If not, run! It's that simple. Artist's Rep's current Season is loaded with what seems like "Pull-no-Punches Theatre", and I, for one, am licking my lips. Unfortunately, this also means that going into detail in my reviews might be more difficult than usual. A small price to pay.

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