BLKS

Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, Alfie Fuller, Paige Gilbert

 

By Sandi Durell

 

I will start out by saying that if you are not of the mind or heart to keep hearing the use of the “f” word without let up, or witnessing what to some might be considered stage porno, raunchy behavior and language that denigrates rather than elevates, then BLKS, currently in residence at MCC Theater Space, may not be the show for you!

It’s the Black rendition of the angst of what white 20-somethings deal with in their lives. Of course, having to make this distinction does nothing more than bring it into the great racial divide. I’m wondering what playwright Aziza Barnes (a poet) really had in mind when she wrote this.

In the hour and a half, I found nothing much to laugh at (nor did the person I was sitting next to along with other folks of a certain age) two girls having sex opens the play, one performing oral sex on the other while rapid fire dialogue marks what is considered comedy in its rawest, raunchiest form.

 

The basic story finds three young black girls sharing an apartment in Bushwick (Brooklyn, NY) working out their messy lives, problems and insecurities. There’s Octavia (Paige Gilbert) who prefers her female counterpart Ry (Coral Pena) not only for sex but they also have a relationship about a film they’re maybe working on together, albeit both are currently unemployed; there’s Imani (Alfie Fuller) who really would like to be a standup comic just like Eddie Murphy and tries to emulate his style when given the chance (but instead is swayed into a lesbian encounter with a white girl she meets at a club) – the white girl is referred to in the program as ‘That Bitch on the Couch” (Marie Botha); and there’s June (Antoinette Crowe-Legacy) who seems to have her act together having just landed a $100,000 a year job as an accountant (she’s a math whizz) at Deloitte but appears to be no better off than her two roommates when it comes to how her personal life is playing out. They’re all happiest drinking endlessly and smoking pot.

What’s funny? Well, Octavia notices a mole on her “clit” and wants Ry to take a look which she doesn’t want to do and instead leaves. When Imani gets wind of what’s going on she says she’ll go out and get Octavia a band-aide. June has come back complaining that she’s just found out her boyfriend has been cheating on her having found a used condom in his kitchen.

Basically, there’s a lot of hysteria going on as they yell, scream and can’t get more than one or two words out without the “f” word.

The set is turn-table – from living room/kitchen to bedroom to bathroom to outdoors on a street (clever design by Clint Ramos). However, it turns so quickly that it surely is a metaphor for the spinning hysteria going on in this play.

Justin Myers, Paige Gilbert

 

More encounters ensue when Justin (Chris Myers), a Mr. nice guy, gets into the act meeting June at the nightclub the girls are partying at, and falls for her. This meeting leads him to stalk her, following her home and climbing through her bedroom window where we find June in a wedding dress. As you can imagine, the conversation is fast and furious; the other girls come home and wouldn’t you know it, Octavia with her big sexual appetite is missing Ry but is willing to settle for Justin asking him to perform oral sex on her. Justin doesn’t protest very long.

There’s really no need to go further in explanation or more details.

The cast are all top notch in their performances.

The direction is by Robert O’Hara with lighting by Alex Jainchill, sound by Palmer Hefferan and costumes by Dede Ayite.

I’ve always been favorably impressed with much of what I’ve seen at MCC at its old home at the Lortel Theater . . . “School Girls or African Mean Girls,” “Hand to God” . . . so call me prissy if you want, but I think there’s a time when too far just doesn’t make any points. Of course, being on the far side of 60, my preferences for theater are very different. When there was laughter it was coming from the 20-somethings in the audience.

Photos: Dean van Meer

 

BLKS – MCC Theater Space 511 West 52 Street, NYC www.MCCTheater.org thru June 2 – no intermission

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