Race | 02.10.12

play race_smRace is 1:45 of fully captivating, highly enjoyable, and thought-provoking entertainment.

St. Louis Repertory Theatre, St. Louis

play race_lg

You know how sometimes going into something with high expectations results in disappointment? Such was not the case with David Mamet’s Race, which opened at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre February 10. Rather, Race was 1:45 of fully captivating, highly enjoyable, and thought-provoking entertainment.

As its title suggests, the issue of race serves as something of a fifth character. The story involves a rich white man, Charles Strickland (Mark Elliot Wilson), accused of raping a young black woman, with whom he claims to have had a relationship. As the play opens, Charles is meeting with a pair of attorneys, the white Jack Lawson (Jeff Talbott) and his black partner, Henry Brown (Morocco Omari), who are deciding whether or not to take the case. They send young lawyer Susan (Zooey Martinson)—and yes, she, too, is black—out of the room to administer paperwork to the potential client.

While the two are out of the room, Jack and Henry come to the conclusion that taking the case will be detrimental to their careers, if not altogether unwinnable. Problem is, Susan takes an unintentional action—or is it?—that forces them to take Charles on as a client.

The entirety of Race takes place in the attorneys’ conference room. Through careful analysis of the public facts of the case, the two devise a nearly foolproof defense plan. Throughout the interaction between the characters, though, the issue of race comes up again and again. Initially silently taking in the action, Susan grows increasingly combative, bringing up the issue of race in a number of contexts.

While each of the performers here is fantastic, I must draw attention to Talbott, whose passionate and humorous outbursts lighten what is otherwise a serious play about serious issues. The smooth direction of Timothy Near is evidenced by the near-flawless delivery. And the writing of Mamet is, as expected, brilliant. | Laura Hamlett

Race runs through March 4; tickets are available online or by calling 314-968-4925. Race contains strong language and is recommended for ages 18 and up.

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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