An Octoroon - PHOTO

André Sills as George (right) and Ryan Cunningham as Pete (left) are master and slave in the Shaw Festival’s presentation of An Octoroon.


Whether it’s bigotry, violence, racial profiling, or a reasonable facsimile, the issues never seem to change when you’re African American.
The story of a proud Louisiana family menaced by a neighboring slaveholder bent on seizing their property, along with the young mixed-race woman of the play’s title is semi-tiring in its theatrical wandering.

However, playwright Brendan Jacobs-Jenkins message in An Octoroon is not only a hot topic, it’s deep seeded meaning may just force you to have a long second look in the mirror to see assess where you find a rightful place in the ongoing debate.

This is a subversive and shocking take on race and identity in the America of yesterday and today. Set in the U.S. south—and both hilarious and concerning—its in-your-face plot is pre-civil war melodrama that you ain’t seen quite like this before.

Be forewarned that ts dialogue can cause some throat clearing among the mostly white audience and conversations long afterward about the meaning of identity, continuing black-white division in the post-civil rights era, and what’s proper for the modern stage.

Truth in all its variations requires a closer assessment from every angle. You may not love the script that underscores this in An Octoroon but with an ensemble of agile performers thanks to the careful direction of Peter Hinton

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