Kirsten Greenidge’s play gives us another view of racism in America that still remains with us.
The set was a constant bonus. The set-back stage did result in some lost dialog from the actors, but over all was perfect. The set made great use of the turn-table. There were three large panels that changed from indoors to outdoors and from location to location. The back panel allowed not only the turn-table to move on and be replaced, but also allowed the next scene to be set-up with movement. The exterior three-panel shot of the backyard with its green trees even contained the motion of their leaves in the wind. Very nicely done. The background images don’t show well as projected photographs, unfortunately.
Thank god for subterfuge. The play takes place in Boston in the 1950s in a neighborhood where supposedly only “whites” are allowed to own homes. It could have taken place in the Seattle or Tacoma area as well. Joseph and Patty Ann Donovan, a white Irish couple was the home’s “ghost buyer,” a common practice during a time when African-Americans couldn’t legally purchase their own property in many communities. Patty Ann Donovan comes off as a person with a chip on her shoulder. She complains that her daughters had to sleep together in a small house. This enraged my wife, Peg, who also came from an Irish Catholic family with a U.S. Air Force father and often had to sleep with her older sister as they moved from home to home. No sympathy from Peg.
During the play we get to see the Donovan’s struggle and age. We also get to see the new “owners” Mark and Lucy Taylor and their children and their children as adults.
We meet Joe Donovan (Jason Sharp) and his wife Patty Ann (Jill Heinecke) and see them argue about the fee to charge the Taylors. We also get to see Rex Taylor (Mark Peterson) and his wife Lucy (Laurice Roberts) argue about getting the correct paperwork for the purchase and exchange. The best scene in the production is between Joe Donovan and Lucy Taylor. Two regular human beings enjoying a few moments together . . . relaxing . . . and caring about their world and yet wanting the best for each other.
The second act is about the younger generation and the angst and worry about the resale of the house and who has the needed paperwork.
Near the end we see the Donovans visiting “their” house. Patty Ann and Joe Donovan have changed. Patty Ann has remained a sour and jealous person retaining her greed, while Joe has grown and seems at ease with everyone.
Blake R. York came through again with the set design . . . simple and yet, you felt at home. Also, delivering both the homey feeling and reality was Jen York as the scenic artist.
The play was directed by Lydia K. Valentine, Tacoma’s own Poet Laureate who is both a poet and a as well as an editor, educator, and director. The play leaves many areas open for discussion.
Luck of the Irish runs through June 19th.
For tickets, please visit – tix6.centerstageticketing.com/sites/tacomalt/event-details.php?e=380