James Ijames-directed Fairview in Philadelphia (major spoilers)
Posted by: mikem 09:54 am EDT 06/20/22

James Ijames is the Lead Artistic Director for the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia this season, and he directed the final production of the season, Jackie Sibblies Drury's "Fairview." The cast is excellent, and it is well worth seeing.

I saw the show in NY as well, and I believe the white characters in "Act II" there were never seen and were only disembodied voices. In this production, they are at the very back of the stage, visible through Venetian blinds that cover picture windows at the back of the living room set. You can't see them well, and you're kind of straining to do so, which takes some of the focus off what they are saying. I think it was distracting to have them there.

The finale was not as effective as when I saw it in NY, for reasons that I don't think the theater could have done much about. There were very, very few people of color in the audience, and a large number of the white members of the audience did not participate, so most of the seated audience at the end were white. I think the only thing that the theater could have done is try to get more of the white audience members to participate by prepping them a little during a pre-show announcement, although trying to word that without giving away too much would be difficult. I don't know if I've ever seen another show at that theater that had audience participation, and I think many audience members were confused at first about what was happening. I saw it in NY towards the end of the run, and many audience members got up quickly. That did not happen here.

Brett Ashley Robinson, the actress who gave the final monologue, was really excellent, but the rest of the cast was also very strong.

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