A review of Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins which is now showing at Good Company Theater from April 29-May 15, 2016.
Plot synopsis: A family gathers to settle the estate of their recently deceased father. Tensions are already high when an album full of perverse, racist photos is found and everything goes to hell. Each character’s life story is its own plot line that intertwines with the others as the family deals with the crisis of their father’s death and the discovery of the photos. The play shows us a small segment of time where each character tries to addresses their individual problems while dealing with many larger issues.
The production: When I first walked into the theater I was amazed by the transformation of the set. The only other production I’ve seen at Good Company Theater was The Vagina Monologues which had a very simple stage. The set of Appropriate was eye catching and filled with vintage furniture and decor that was largely provided by Urban Chic Boutique. The entire stage was shifted from the far South side of the theater to take up the entire East and South sides. No matter where you sit you will have a fantastic and unique view of the production.
Though it felt like the actors used the first few scenes to warm up they brought the production to a boil. I was able to completely suspend my disbelief. The feelings of rage, sadness, nervousness, and happiness seemed perfectly real. I was particularly impressed with Teresa Sanderson who never seemed to be acting.
Themes: Parents be advised: Though it is called Appropriate, it definitely has themes that may be considered inappropriate for children, to include: pedophilia, necrophilia, lynchings, drug addiction, not to mention a lot of colorful language.
Though every character in the play is white the main theme of the play revolves around racism and the difficulty each character had dealing with it. I thought this play did an excellent job highlighting the frustrations associated with white guilt. What exactly do you do when you find such an incredibly depraved and racist photo album? Do you change your opinion of a father who loved you unconditionally though he was filled with hate for another race? Do you even know that it was your father’s book? Do you make excuses, pretend it never happened, sell the book, burn the book? It was intriguing to watch such a variety of characters deal with these questions as they struggled with their own demons.
How you’ll feel: This play was gripping, hysterical, heartbreaking and left me feeling energized and agitated. Just like real life the play didn’t end with a neatly tied up ending. If you are looking for closure after an emotional play you will not find it at Appropriate. I went to Appropriate by myself and had such an urge to talk about it that I called up a friend at 10 pm just so we could discuss it.
Overall I highly recommend you see this play! It ends soon so get your tickets now! http://www.goodcotheatre.com/