The Canyoneers 11 a.m., Nov. 15
Thomas Gibbons's drama actually improves after the curtain falls. It's based on Philadelphia art collector A.C. Barnes's eccentric foundation. When he died in 1990, Barnes willed the works of predominately white Impressionist artists to Lincoln University, a largely African-American school. And he stipulated that the paintings be displayed just as he left them, permanently. In Gibbons's play, the new director, Sterling North, is an African-American. He finds eight priceless works of African art in storage and wants to put them in one of the foundation's 23 galleries. But the will won't allow it. Lawsuits, rancor, and racist attacks follow on all sides. The play, based more on ideas than characters, unfolds in predictable stages. But to his credit the playwright doesn't cut off the questions he raises. In fact, he opens them up: Who says what is, or isn't, art? What are the modern faces/masks of racism? How multicultural, in actual practice, is multiculturalism? Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company's opening night was stiff and unsteady, the actors often playing one emotion through an entire scene (happy, sad, angry). Even reliable Walter Murray, as the new president Sterling North, was shaky at first. But when North releases his rage in Act Two, Murray became compelling. Joe Powers plays the ghost of Barnes, here called Alfred Morris, as a deft cross between a rational human being and a bourbon-drenched infant (just what was Barnes thinking when he made his will? Did he want a posthumous clash?). David F. Weiner's excellent set's almost a work of art in itself. A Cezanne sits upstage center, flanked by black, see-through screens that reveal rooms and entryways. Lit nicely by Jason Bieber, the orderly set provides a stark contrast for emotional issues, which seem to grow after the final scene's done.
Worth a try.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, March 16, 2008
- Sundays, 2pm-
- Fridays, 7:30pm-
- Saturdays, 7:30pm-