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Sunday, February 13, 2011

David Mamet's Race at the Philadelphia Theatre Company

A Review By Sojourner Ahebee

Last Saturday, I went to see Race, the smash Broadway hit, written by David Mamet. The Philadelphia Theatre Company is currently presenting Race until February 20th. This play, which takes place at a law firm, really takes you for an emotional ride. The three main characters are lawyers Jack who is white, Henry who is African-American and Susan who is African-American. They have to decide whether or not to take on a very complicated and potentially divisive case. The case involves Charles, a white, wealthy, prominent man, who has been accused of raping an African-American woman. You get the picture now?

Mamet is so effective in taking his audience out of its comfort zone and making people confront truths that have never been deeply explored. When deciding Charles’ innocence or guilt and debating whether to take on this case, it was uncomfortably interesting to hear the three lawyers bring their own prejudices to the table. I am pretty young and I know I am a little na├»ve, but I felt very sad to discover what I kind of knew and that is how race and racism dominates American life. I was so surprised how this play really moved me, even though it was to a feeling of gloom. Mamet is my new genius. His play Race makes you feel, makes you challenge your own racial attitudes and makes you think.

This play is extremely well written and well acted. You see another side to each character you might have not seen if race wasn’t a core part of the play’s premise. I also feel like the viewer of the play also brings his/her own prejudices and stereotypes to the play when deliberating in their minds if Charles is indeed guilty of the crime. It’s amazing how if the race of a character was flipped-for example if the accuser’s rapist was black- the whole dynamic of the play would completely change.

Also, throughout the play, the idea of justice came up quite a lot. The whole time Charles is trying to tell the lawyers what really happened, none of the lawyers want to really listen to the truth. For them it is not about right or wrong, it is about if they have a case or not. This scares me and completely destroys my expectation that justice is always the goal. It seems it is not. When I asked my Aunt Mona did justice exist, she answered by saying, “No, I really don’t think so. I think it’s just a theory.”

I tried not to give anything away. I recommend that ALL my readers to go and see this play. It is by far the best play (not one of the best) I have ever seen! I look forward to seeing this play again when I am a little older and have more experience with the world. Race will be playing at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre through February 20, 2011! To see dates and times click the following link.

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