RACE Keeps Brisk Pace at Drama Group

by Lisa Panzer

Marc C. Johnson (as Henry Brown) and Dante Zappala (as Jack Lawson) in The Drama Group’s production of RACE by David Mamet. Performances continue Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 through November 24 in Pilling Hall at The First United Methodist Church of Germantown, 6001 Germantown Avenue.

David Mamet’s RACE as co-Directed by Colleen Bracken and Marc C. Johnson started out bracing, and maintained the rapt attention of opening night’s large audience with its rapid-fire dialogue, intrigue and twists. In this play which speculates on race issues through a multi-faceted lens, and exposes the dog eat dog side of the legal system, there is a mixed race law firm which has taken on a rape case in which a rich white man is accused of raping a black woman. Instant drama? But wait! There’s more. The female lawyer of the firm, who happens to be very attractive, believes the accused man is guilty for her own reasons. Enter gender under examination as well as exploitation and morality. To paraphrase a quote from the play, “there are…opposing fictions” discussed and bantered about while the house listens to the evidential indications as a jury might. It gets intense.

The cast appeared well rehearsed; the blocking, movement and stage business and placement, were balanced and detailed. The actors are well versed in their lines and in their body language and expressions. Marc C. Johnson plays Henry Brown with both patience and energy, giving his character depth, while Dante Zappala embues Jack Lawson with a sense of impatience and desire to undertand. The two played well off each other, sometimes with staccato delivery, and also with Liz Priestly, who plays the firm’s lady associate with direct skill and aplomb. Liz Priestly makes good use of silence, communicating quite well with her face and gestures. Jim Golden, as the accused, uses his voice splendidly in his portrayal of Charles Strickland as clueless victim, a poor little rich boy wronged.

With no special lighting, sound effects or music used, and a basic law room office setting, this show just doesn’t stop ’til it’s over! Case closed.

by David Mamet
Co-Directed By Colleen Bracken and Marc C. Johnson
November 9 – 24, 2012
The Drama Group
6001 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19144

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