A Bit of Jones Arcana
Back in the day when I reviewed everything under the sun and moon for Citysearch, I wrote this. I knew I'd sat through a cringe-worthy account of the Beat era before. I anticipate Hettie Jones' book to be far less irritating.
DATE: May 12, 2003
TITLE: -1 (Minus One)
WRITTEN BY: Gyavira Lasana
DIRECTED BY: David Willinger
THEATER: Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, New York, NY
A reheated tale of racial tensions in 1950s Greenwich Village.
Talking âBout a Revolution
On the eve of the American Civil Rights Movement, we meet black poet and activist Leo Lepard. Lepard is searching for the lesser of two evils between his white school chums, who consider themselves counter-cultural because they âsmoke teaâ and date âspades,â and the equally dicey Uncle-Tomming black establishment that would like to use him as their propagandist mouthpiece. Radical, and increasingly violent, racial politics beckon, and Lepard heeds the call.
Play Ã Clef
Minus One is based on the early career of LeRoi Jones, better known as Amiri Baraka, controversial New Jersey Poet Laureate. Shannon Bryant turns in a fine performance as the beleaguered beatnik, but the script is a stale version late 1950s American history, so oft-portrayed itâs become almost clichÃ©. The sets donât help mattersâTheater for the New City offers a spacious stage, but the space is woefully underused.âMelissa Kirsch