Friday, June 19, 2009

Things of Dry Hours

Photo: Joan Marcus

The plot of Naomi Wallace's Things of Dry Hours does not stand up to examination--actually, the word "flimsy" comes to mind. The characters are odd amalgams of traits, inconsistencies, and political stances. But the plot and characters are sturdy enough to support Wallace's beautiful language and thought-provoking ideas, Ruben Santiago-Hudson's pleasingly theatrical direction, and a couple of superb performances. In brief: a white man with dubious motives forces an African-American father (the superb Delroy Lindo) and daughter (the equally superb Roslyn Ruff) to take him in after he (maybe) commits a serious crime. The father is a Communist and uses the forced proximity to the white man to try to win him over to the cause. The daughter is smart and angry and at loose ends. The white man is lonely. Stir in some magic realism, racial tensions, a few not-terribly-convincing plot points, and genuine emotion, and you have a deeply flawed but excellent evening in the theatre.

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