Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

BLKS
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Richard the Third, Once, Cyrano de Bergerac, Nell Gwynn, and Broadway Center Stage: The Music Man


Shannon Dorsey, Tatiana Williams,
and Cyndii Johnson

Photo by Teresa Castracane
BLKS, the play by Aziza Barnes receiving a riotous production at Washington's Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, is what local audiences would call "a Woolly play." It's hilariously profane, in your face, packed with attitude, and focuses on a community not seen that often onstage: young black women making lives in New York City. (Warning to the squeamish: a good part of the conversation concerns genitalia.)

Director Nataki Garrett, who previously directed Woolly's sumptuous production of An Octoroon, returns to reveal and share the truth of women partnered with women, women partnered with men, and women just trying to find their way.

The play covers 24 hours in the life of roommates Octavia (Cyndii Johnson), Imani (Shannon Dorsey), and June (Tatiana Williams). Octavia and Ry (Alina Collins Maldonado) are making a movie together and have great sex, but do they have a real relationship? Imani is trying to launch her stand-up comedy career. June, up for a position at a major accounting firm, is coping with a man who doesn't treat her well.

Over the course of two hours, without intermission, Octavia has a health scare, June tries to stop an act of violence on the street, and the three women head to a bar where Octavia discovers Ry with another woman (Madeline Joey Rose) and June meets a good-hearted fellow (Justin Weaks) who doesn't understand boundaries. It isn't smooth and doesn't wrap up neatly, but neither does life.

Under Garrett's guidance, Johnson, Dorsey, and Williams convey all the frustration, anguish, rage, and joy of their characters, with strong support from Maldonado, Rose, and Weaks.

Scenic designer Efren Delgadillo Jr., working with projections designer Rasean Davonte Johnson, has created a simple apartment living room, but the overhead beams and rear wall serve as screens for images of subway trains, city traffic, and crowds of pedestrians. Costume designer Lex Liang has created character-defining looks for the three lead women, ranging from Dorsey's crop top and beads and Johnson's shiny mini-dress to Williams' poufy white gown, the significance of which becomes important.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
BLKS
February 4th - March 3rd, 2019
Ry: Alina Collins Maldonado
Octavia: Cyndii Johnson
Imani: Shannon Dorsey
June: Tatiana Williams
That Bitch on the Couch: Madeline Joey Rose
Justin: Justin Weaks
Directed by Nataki Garrett
641 D St. N.W., Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-393-3939 or www.woollymammoth.net


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