Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: N-Word Intervention

By Michael Block

In Kevin R. Free's campy comedy Night of the Living N Word, Free delivers a powerful message straight to the gut. Barbra, a white woman, brings her black husband, son, and father-in-law to her family's plantation to celebrate her son's birthday. And to stage an n-word intervention. But who is really getting an intervention? With comical twist after comical twist, some more ridiculous than the last, Night of the Living N-Word is a tour-de-force comedy with a biting commentary. Free has the ability to entertain while informing. The themes and topics Free introduces are hurled through comedy allowing the audience to truly take it in in entertaining fashion. Sometimes laughing at society packs more of an impact. Even through silly, convoluted plot lines, Free’s message is present, reverberating when you least expect it. But Free runs into a bit of trouble. He starts off setting the pace as a laugh-a-minute comedy but when the jokes disappear, the momentum drops. This happens when the tone starts to shift. Finding a way to balance the two is essential for the overall arc.
photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum
Night of the Living N-Word featured strong direction from Nicole A. Watson. Watson had a strong vision that propelled the action forward. With the festival setting being a hindrance, Watson and her team decided to play with simplicity. The black and white props from Joshua Coakley were a beautiful touch. It helped bring out the comedic elements of Free’s text. Though creating a giant plantation on the stage of the Players Theatre is near impossible, Watson did her best to mock the lack of environment.
Night of the Living N-Word featured a top-notch cast of comedians. Led by Eevin Hartsough as Barbra, Hartsough managed to incorporate the campy nature of a slasher film with the conviction of her character. It was a fantastic vehicle for Hartsough. As her husband Ben, Free took a step into his own play. And it was a rare occurance that worked. Stanley Wayne Mathis and Aaron Parker Fouhey as Clayton and Channing respectively added a wonderful kookiness to their characters.
If you’re someone who likes to laugh at society, you’ll certainly enjoy Night of the Living N-Word. It will likely make you uncomfortable. And that’s the point.