Friday, April 15, 2011
THEATER REVIEW- FORGIVING JOHN LENNON When:Sundays : 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (ends May 22) Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays : 8:30 p.m. (ends May 22) Saturdays : 3 p.m. (ends May 22) Except April 24 www.detroitreptheatre.com Writer: William Missouri Downs The play explores intercultural relations, through a lens of interactions between an American married couple and a Somali national who is of the Muslim faith. The couple, who are both college professors, are both interracial and intercultural themselves-- Joseph (Benjamin Williams) is African-American and Katie (Leah Smith) is Caucasian and England born and raised. Asma (Yolanda Jack), the guest, is a poet who has lived in several countries, and has been brought to America for a performance sponsored by two colleges, including the one that the couple works for- A misunderstanding places her in their care for the evening, and thus begins the narrative. The title is a flip reference to the Vatican's official newsletter, L'Osservatore Romano, effectively pardoning John Lennon for making his meant-to-be-taken-ironically- "we're bigger than Jesus" comments in the late 60s that brought down condemnation from an assortment of parties, including the religious leaders of the time. The play takes place entirely in the living room of the couple's home, and the narrative is completely dialogue-driven. Most of the comedy-- and conflict-- comes from Asma's sharp observations about American culture, and dispelling many of the preconceptions that Joseph and Katie have-- despite being self-described liberal academics, there ends up being a lot they don't know about misunderstood minorities-- and even themselves. Some themes: the play lampoons how political correctness can intellectually and emotionally hobble even the most well-meaning of people, how professors that are supposed to be teaching people to be free thinkers are boxed-in by chasing down the holy grail of tenure status, how it doesn't take much for someone convinced of their open-mindedness and generosity can really be quite conservative and self-serving.