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Average Rating Given : 3.00000
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REVIEWS

Spinning Into Butter, by Rebecca Gilman
Spunning into Bitter
Friday, May 11, 2001
3.0
Where to begin, where to begin? Overall, I walked out of the play glad I had walked in, which is a plus. It's usually a bad sign when you walk out muttering, "Oy! What did I do that for?"

For a play on race relations, it was interesting that everyone in the cast was white (of course, I am using the word "white" loosely, since there was an Hispanic character/actor), so in essence, this was a play about how stuffy white people relate to blacks without having ever given African-Americans a chance to respond. Very one-sided. The arguments for the other side were presented, alternately, by the Hispanic character and the stuffy white people.

The playwright (a native Alabamino) seems to have studied at the Frying-Pan-to-the-Face School of Writing. This was not a subtle play at all, and instead of the awful toodley-oodley-oodley clarinet playing the musical transitions between scenes, they should simply have played the sound of an audience member being clobbered by the point of that particular scene. "Clonk," it would go, and another viewer would slump in his uncomfortable chair.

Since we live in a world and a country where even the slightest hint of racism or sexual harassment will spawn a rash of meetings and mandatory "sensitivity training sessions", the reactions of the characters here were difficult to fathom. They seemed unduly offended and/or motivated by the thought that an event that has become mundane to the rest of us. Or perhaps none of them has ever been in corporate, CYA America. The ideas, which would have seemed progressive in 1970, were hardly new or challenging in 2001.

The actors were all competent in a high school production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" kind of way. They knew all their lines. They hit all their marks. They were just unable to make me believe they were other than what they were, which was people reading lines and hitting marks, which I guess means they were not acting, per se. The lead actress's voice was a dead ringer for that of Helen Hunt; what works well on "Mad About You" does not necessarily play so well when you have to project farther than your boom mic.

The guy who played Mike, the security guard, was both engaging and competent.

But here's the thing: the second act cooked and the lead actress's monologue was both tasty and full of pecans. I almost wish it had been a dialogue, so there would have been enough to go around. Actually, it was revealing and challenging and the actress actually came alive while delivering it. Her opposite did a passable job of recoiling in horror.

The resolution was fairly obvious to anyone who has attended enough theater (or read enough books). But the lively second act made up for the questionable first and I am happy I saw it.

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