Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Of the 50+ plays that Amiri Baracka (aka LeRoi Jones) has written throughout his career, Dutchman is his most famous and not his best. Its continued prominence is due to the fact that when it premiered forty years ago, it was the right play at the right time about the right subject. In 2007, however, it is no longer a taboo button-pusher; it's almost quaint. You will likely forget this, though, when you're watching Dule Hill and Jennifer Mudge tear through Baracka's text on stage at the Cherry Lane Theatre, in a stylish production by film director Bill Duke. There aren't two better actors in New York to tackle the central roles of Clay, a black man trying hard to assimilate; and Lula, a white woman who seduces and humiliates him on a subway train. Hill is commanding and powerful, and delivers Clay's penultimate monologue with enough fire to torch the whole of Greenwich Village, while Mudge is pure sexuality personified. No man in their right mind would turn her away, no matter how dire the ensuing consequences are.