By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Contrasted against Colorblind, you can tell Rappaport was written by a white guy.
Though the comedy is actually about aging, not race, the racial dynamic is the inverse of Demarria's. Colorblind's black characters are fundamentally courageous. They may be confused but they stand behind what they believe, and their beliefs present a direct challenge to the way the world is run.
In Gardner's play, the black character is acquiescent and finds Nat's stridency an annoying imposition. The play consists largely of a series of meetings between Nat and Midge on and around a bench in Central Park.
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Nat, an old Commie and Yiddish-speaking dynamo, is in many ways akin to Muhammad — the difference being that Nat deliberately makes up crap in order to get what he wants. Among the duo's crises — they find themselves confronted by a mugger (Andy Scott Harris) and in the middle of a drug deal gone bad — is the termination of 83-year-old Midge's employment as supervisor at a nearby co-op.
Midge is content to accept a 10-week severance package and a union pension, as though he's done OK by The Man. Not so Nat, who intervenes by impersonating a lawyer and threatening the building manager (Joe Langer) on the reluctant Midge's behalf.
But the protagonist here is neither Midge nor Nat nor the committee determining Midge's future. The protagonist is time itself, and the play primarily concerns our capacities to defy it — for a time — with a ruse or a bluff or even a con. It's a bit like a play by Chekhov, but one where all the subtext gets spelled out or joked away.
Howard Teichman's staging is perfectly adequate, as played out on set designer Kurtis Bedford's graffiti-pocked park-bridge set. On the performance I attended, there was a missing spark, so that the stream of quips felt only slightly amusing, peppered with mild pathos. Perhaps because of the sluggish pacing, it became all a little too obvious, even predictable, when Nat had to face down the plans of his own daughter (Maria Spassoff) for her cantankerous dad.
The play, like its central characters, was showing its age.
COLORBLIND | By Wallace Demarria | Meta Theatre, 7801 Melrose Ave. | Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; through May 5 | (323) 852-6963 | anthonymeindl.com/theatres.htm
I'M NOT RAPPAPORT | By Herb Gardner | Presented by West Coast Jewish Theatre at the Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A. | Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through June 23 | (323) 860-6620 | wcjt.org