Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Smart People

Second Stage has chosen to present likely the most self-absorbed, un-interesting, and indulgent play by what can only be described as a bitter, angry, ivy-leaguer stuck in academia-land with no real connection to the real world where us normal folk live.

With a "smart" connection to racism that likely nobody except a few in the theater might even appreciate, we get Barak Obama's election thrown in our face even tho it has nothing to do directly with the story of the four unrelated characters.  But of course it was there because everything in this playwright's universe probably revolves around Barak Obama and his historic presidency. It is central to the quintessential millennial's storyline.

One would expect that the actors on the stage might have salvaged the material.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a stage actor anywhere to be found.  TV-land has invaded all four of the characters.  Overall the actors were too loud, too flat, and seemed to be playing to the cameras as they are used to.   It didn't help that the structure of the play was vignette-like often promoting the short burst messages.  I was ready for commercials to roll at some points.

The playwright... oh sorry... the author (she's too good to be a playwright i suppose), Lydia R. Diamond likely identifies closely with this over privileged academic bubble fantasy she portrays as real life.  The truth of the matter is that each of the characters exudes stereotype to the point I wanted to vomit.  The power-Asian academic who secretly loves to shop and screw (Anne Son), the top-of-his-class African American doctor (Mahershala Ali) who still can't get ahead due to his race and associated anger, the over-privileged white professor (Joshua Jackson) who never spent a day in the real world, and finally the broke, idealistic, young, pretty black actress (Tessa Thompson) who smokes and screws the doctor because she might just get her MRS.  And while I am now delighted to know that Mr. Jackson is well endowed, the locker room scene was totally gratuitous and completely derivative.  I suspect it may eventually get cut.

Do yourself a favor and skip Smart People.  You'll save a shoe that you otherwise would want to throw at these over-priveledged loser-characters who think they have a purpose in life you see on stage.