SMART PEOPLE at the Monument Theater Company


After a long time away from the live theater, “Smart People” was the perfect show to return. As a work of art, it contains a supreme blend of moments to make you laugh, cringe, and question you. As a performance, he has the actors with the chops to bring this daring piece to life in a captivating way.

Celestial:

After a long time away from the live theater, “Smart People” was the perfect show to return. As a work of art, it contains a supreme blend of moments to make you laugh, cringe, and question you. As a performance, he has the actors with the chops to bring this daring piece to life in a captivating way.

In an age filled with political turmoil and the need for racial reckoning, “Smart People” might be considered a big risk, but kudos to Monument Theater Company for approaching such an intimidating subject with so much grace and gravity.

“Smart People” relies on a cast of just four, and it was a terrific cast.

Jamaal McCray plays a young Dr. Jackson Moore bubbling with passion and anger at his inability to leave his mark and make a difference without facing obstacle after obstacle. His portrayal had a rawness that made the character unexpectedly gritty and deep and kept him from being enveloped in the trope of an “angry black man”.

Barbara Michelle Dabney as Valerie Johnston is a bit bright and bubbly that you can’t help but laugh at and take root in. She laid bare the struggle of being watched on both sides of the racial divide, of being “too white” or “too black” or just too much. Her overwhelming positivity added a much-needed levity to some of the show’s toughest moments.

Kim Egan as Ginny Yang and Maverick Schmit as Brian White create a bubbling mix of privilege, narcissism, racism, exoticism, sexism and fragility that really makes you want to squirm and dive deep into your psyche to assess where you have failed. There are harsh realities that come to light in their relationship, and each offers the depth that its role demands. Egan initially appears confident, willful and self-assured, but is disturbed by moments of passivity and rescue techniques that show her hurt side. Schmit will rub you in all the wrong ways, but still leave you wanting him to come to the conclusion he desperately needs to reach.

And what is this conclusion? The play does not seem to want to give a clear answer. Instead, it invites questions, which is a sign of a truly great theater. You leave the theater with questions, which can spark conversations, which (hopefully) spawn action.

Dylan :

Does intelligence make a white person less racist by nature? How about a white neurologist researching his own racism?

These questions weigh in on Chicago writer Lydia R. Diamond’s play “Smart People,” a play that focuses on the challenges of racial and gender identity, and takes place on and around the Harvard University campus.

For many of the “smart people” you wonder if this is meant to be the main takeaway: there is no avoiding racial malaise and doubt in today’s fractured America. , even in a world that is supposed to run primarily on science and data. Not only does the show imply that interracial sex is fraught with systemic barriers, it suggests that interracial relationships are easier. Jackson and Valerie, the doctor and actress, can’t go through a meal without arguing over who has the most valuable “black card” to play.

The show was shot very well. Valerie and Jackson come across as the most empathetic pair. Barbara Michelle Dabney is a very sympathetic and honest actress, playing a genuinely luminous actress whose work the playwright Diamond knows and understands. And there are a few moments when Dabney really breaks out of the more protective mold of the series. Jamaal McCray is a constantly restless actor, always right in the moment and, you feel, on the verge of something. You straighten up as he considers taking a chance or delivering a line. There is no weak link in the pack. Jackson strikes the right balance between arrogance and sincerity in Brian (Maverick Schmit), his arrogance slowly deflating as he slips from Harvard golden boy to outcast. While his role involves some repetition, his final calculation carries the most weight as he blurted out hurtful statements that expose the deeply rooted sense of white privilege he tries to deny. Ginny Yang (a Kim Egan not to be taken into account) is a professor of psychology at Harvard, American by birth, but of Japanese and Chinese descent. Showing a keen self-confidence that can seem overwhelming, she was first seen giving a presentation on her latest findings and doesn’t stop until the end.

Don’t miss your chance to witness this sensational comeback on stage for Monument Theater Company. The shows now run through August 15. The performances take place Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is pay what you can because Monument Theater Company believes theater is for ALL.


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