[44] DUTCH MASTERS (Azuka Theatre): Fringe review

photo by Johanna Austin Dutch Masters Azuka fringe review

Photo by Johanna Austin (AustinArt.org)

1992. It’s sixteen years before Barack Obama is elected president, but New York City has its first (and still only) black mayor, David Dinkins, soon to lose a race-focused election to Rudy Giuliani. Brooklyn is known more for the Crown Heights riots than the Williamsburg bars. L.A. has just erupted following the Rodney King verdict. Willie Turks, Michael Griffith, and Yusef Hawkins are fresh in the memory. Young African American Eric (the scintillating Brandon Pierce) has political and personal reasons to be angry.

On the subway he meets Steve (Brendan Dalton) a rich white student with a love of black music and sports stars but a fear of black people. For some reason, Eric insists that they get off the car to smoke a Dutch Masters blunt together, resisting Steve’s apologies with the unanswerable “you ain’t sorry, you racist”. Back at Eric’s apartment, Steve discovers that much more unites them and much more separates them than he imagined. Greg Keller’s plot is well tread, but his language and slow reveals are affecting. Director Kevin Glaccum keeps the pacing tight and the humor rich and brings lively performances from his young actors for an evocative and nuanced look at an America gone but still with us. (And there’s some awesome early hip hop between scenes: Eric B, Tribe Called Quest—”Mr Dinkins would you please be my mayor”.) [The Off-Broad Street Theater] September 11-29, 2013, azukatheatre.ticketleap.com/dutch-masters.

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Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.