This seven-person cast (consisting of Ernest Briggs, Alsa Bruno, Suzie Cheng, Nastacia Nicole Foster, Dana Lee Thompson, Jesse Villarreal, and Simone Williams), most of whom were unfamiliar to me, all do a wonderful job bringing their unique perspectives and talent to the piece. On a mostly bare stage with a screen to display images or video, with large panels occasionally covering it to provide the backdrop (scenic and video design by Josh Cragun), a dozen or two short scenes played out. Some are funny, some poignant, some a bit shocking, all raw and true. My favorites include:
- The show begins with the cast visiting Nacirema Travel Agency, illustrating the mostly horrible ways people ended up in this country.
- A spoof of local news shows us how skewed it can be, with hilariously sing-songy voices by Ernest and Simone, and stories featuring homicide, sports, and weather.
- A QVC sale of the "token friend of color" is funny and dead on and might make you squirm a little.
- A scene on a bus with few words spoken shows us what's really going on inside people's heads as characters hold up signs that display their thoughts. It's quite telling, moving, and disturbing.
- In some of the most beautiful scenes, each of the seven ensemble members describes her or himself in terms of food, which I assume they had at least a part in writing. These monologues are all lovely, diverse, and poetic, like spoken word performances.
- What starts out as a fun dance party with Alsa calling movements and the cast performing them turns into a sobering police encounter.
- Alsa's painting show (think Bob Ross painting a crack house) is really funny, playful, and surprisingly poignant.
- Dana and Nastacia embrace and celebrate beautiful natural hair!
- The cast stands at the front of the stage and takes turns saying some of the stupid and insensitive things people say.
- A lovely song by Dana and the cast ends the show, with beautifully diverse images of famous Americans displayed on the screen.
I'm a little late to this party - nimbus theatre's Nacirema closes this Sunday. But if you have time this weekend, I recommend checking it out for some entertaining, thought-provoking, challenging, creative theater.
|the cast of Nacirema|