Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Black Rep Season Opens with a Juicy Characters and Big Problems

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Black Rep Season Opens with a Juicy Characters and Big Problems

Article excerpt

Shelly (Jacqueline Thompson) is at the end of her rope. A lawyer raising her son by herself, she's also the principal caregiver for her mother, Dotty (Thomasina Clarke). And Dotty, who has Alzheimer's, is getting worse each day.

"Dot," by Colman Domingo, takes place during the holidays in the west Philadelphia house where Dotty and her late husband reared their family and where she still lives. But Shelly spending more than she can afford for a gentle, part-time aide from Kazakhstan called Fidel (Ryan Lawson-Maeske) thinks it's time to move Dot into assisted living. Or hire another aide. Or something.

To do that, she's going to need help from her siblings, Donnie (Chauncy Thomas) and Averie (Heather Beal). Neither has exactly been forthcoming, but Shelly is determined to change that when everyone is home for Christmas.

Playwright Domingo is best known as an actor, so perhaps that's why he created juicy parts for the members of his cast. Black Rep director Ron Himes matches his tone by emphasizing the play's humor. (There's a lot more of that than you'd guess.)

Clarke and Thompson give strong performances that show their characters' seams. Why is Shelly so sharp with her mother? Is it because she's exhausted and desperate? Why does Dotty sound calm and lucid one minute, recalling her days of political activism, and fly off the handle the next? Is it because she's not in control? Because she's terrified? Both? These two performances wouldn't be out of place in a serious drama.

Donnie and his longtime partner (and recent husband), Adam (Paul Edwards), who live in New York, have been reluctant to get involved. They have their own troubles, financial and otherwise.

But Donnie is certainly willing to criticize Shelly. Only Adam seems willing to go along with Dotty's memory excursions, dancing with her when she confuses him with her husband. It's a tender scene. …

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