I thought that production achieved that spectacularly...because Merkerson's Lola was the only black character in the story, her race, for me, contributed to the character's isolation. Here was a black woman married to an alcoholic and abusive white man in the 1950's...I got why she had so few choices. Her family has disowned her, perhaps for marrying a white guy, not just that this particular guy is bad news. What expectation could she possibly have for her life if she left him? She would certainly be walking out on her fairly comfortable middle class life. That question is really heightened when you think about what choices she would have had as a black woman in the 1950's with no support system at all.
Merkerson wasn't playing anything here, but the truth of the character, and yet you couldn't not see that this Lola was a black woman and factor that into everything that happens.
It worked so well that my now-husband thought that the play had been written with this intent and didn't realize at first, until I pointed it out, that there's nothing in the text that indicates that Lola is black. He's not American, so he wasn't familiar with Shirley Booth and had never seen the play or the film before.