There’s no point summarizing the plot of Marcus Gardley’s labyrinthine black odyssey, an over-the-top but extremely rewarding show running now at Trinity Rep. “It’s a lot,” more than audience member declared during the intermission after the frantic 90-minute first act, in which a human chess game takes place between the gods Deus (Jude Sandy) and Poseidon – or, according to the program, “Great Grand Paw Sidin: god of sea, king of fish” (Omar Robinson). Combining Greek myth with American history, the production includes singing, dancing, high melodrama, bursts of audience participation, lots of dripping water, sparkly footwear, a New Orleans second line, and even appearances by Diana Ross and Tina Turner. References to dark moments in American history are thrown around willy-nilly, from the Scottsboro Boys to Hurricane Katrina to the Philando Castile trial. Nine actors play some two dozen roles, some mortal, some not. And if that’s not enough, the stage is set largely with piled-up old TVs, though that device primarily serves as a distraction from the action. (I lost track of the play for a minute, wondering why the Duck Dynasty people were on Family Feud giving Steve Harvey a duck whistle.) One of the performers clearly had trouble remembering their lines on opening night, though the rest of the ensemble was up to the task, particularly Robinson as the spicy villain and Jackie Davis, an adult, as the feisty ten-year old Benevolence.
A pre-play Context & Conversation happens promptly 6pm at Sophia Academy before the January 17 performance. Co-presented by the school with Trinity Rep and Providence Public Library, it’s a free public panel discussion that is open to all, including those who haven’t yet seen the play as well as those who already have. People can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
[photo: Mark Turek]