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A Raisin in the Salad: Black Plays for White People

By Kevin R. Free; Directed by Christopher Burris


Christopher Burris as Blackboy and Jennifer Nikki Kidwell as Blackgirl. Photo by Jason (Woei-Ping) Chen.

BOTTOM LINE: If you're friends with Kevin R. Free, you've probably already seen A Raisin in the Salad: Black Plays for White People (or you got stuck in line waiting to grab a last minute ticket). If you don't already know Kevin R. Free, Kevin's not happy about that and clearly you should. He's not kidding. Search him on Facebook.

Kevin R. Free wants you to know that he's not writing black plays for white people anymore.  And he also wants you to know that he'd still like to keep in touch with you, so you should find him on Facebook. He's hoping to include everyone he's ever met in his numbers there. Then he can always keep in touch and let you know what different kinds of plays he's writing now: ones for himself or, in essence, ones for Blackboy. But not black plays for white people - no. Is there a difference? Apparently there is.

Have you seen variety shows before? Have you gone to a sketch show in which there were jokes that you felt you fell just outside of understanding? I have, too. A lot of times you can slip in unnoticed and laugh along like you knew what they were talking about as well. Yeah, that's fun. This is kinda like one of those shows. Only in A Raisin in the Salad, you never feel like you're just out of reach of understanding, you feel like you belong here. You belong in this close-knitted network of Kevin R. Free's friends. Indeed, you are one of his friends. Or you very soon will be.

It's true that having the theatre FILLED with people who clearly know all the innuendos and the inside jokes makes it easier to laugh non-stop. But it is also true that the inanity that occurs onstage will also draw laughter from you without you being able to control it. You have no choice - it's just that ridiculous. And no matter what the hidden meaning might be, these overblown stereotypes and clich├ęs kill. They do.

The cast of this multi-sketch performance is comprised of six insanely talented and efficient performers. Each one is perfectly cast, and all are musically inclined, which is great for the ears in the many - and I do mean MANY - singing escapades and kazoo work. Let's first note our fearless leader, Kevin R. Free, played by Lelund Durond Thompson: Thompson could host his own show on (syndicated) television and be incredibly popular. He has finesse and can work the crowd with aplomb. Whitelady, played with skill and grace and a ton of tongue in cheek by Charlotte Cohn, is the perfect matron of the evening. As Whiteboy, Nicholas Job has a LOT to show off - and does - while also having incredible timing and a whole lot of soul. And Blackboy, played by director Christopher Burris, is just the cutest, sweetest, most lovable black boy who holds nothing back. Samantha Debicki plays the skinniest, palest red-headed Whitegirl, and perfectly offsets Jennifer Nikki Kidwell's cropped-haired and appropriately tough and curvaceous Blackgirl.

I suppose you are wondering what you should glean from this review. Well, you should know that this is NOT a black play written for white people - sorta. It's a farewell to that ridiculous idea and all the stereotypes that come with it. It is a multiple sketch piece that will definitely have you laughing and unsure what exactly may be going on, but it will entertain you. And that is the truth.

(A Raisin in the Salad: Black Plays for White People plays at Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street between Bleecker and 3rd Street, through August 23rd. Remaining performances are Friday 8/20 at 9:15pm and Monday 8/23 at 5pm. For more information visit www.blackplaysforwhitepeople.com. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)