Stage Raw: Dirty Pooh

Stage Raw: Dirty Pooh

Photo by Steve Moses

Being "on the Down Low," a practice in which a black man in a committed heterosexual relationship covertly engages in homosexual behavior, became familiar territory in the early 2000s.  J.L. King's memoir and subsequent Oprah appearance, a juicy New York Times Magazine cover story, and episodes of popular network television series like NBC's ER all pitched tents on the hot-property subject.  Critics quickly followed, decrying the hype. That's why L. Trey Wilson's world premiere play feels a little late.  Although he focuses more on the effects and not the phenomenon of homosexuality in the African-American community, it's unlikely the sensitive, highly-educated Deanna and Doug Piper (Mashari Laila Bain and William Christian) wouldn't be Times subscribers, nor would they not read between the lines in their own house.  Beyond that, however, the play is overstuffed with unnecessary characters (a superfluous couple), trite dialogue ("Life lessons -- they're everywhere"), and an unsatisfying wrap-up that's also symbolically confused.  The weaknesses of the script fortunately don't hide the strength of the cast: Fuschia! and Jeorge Watson particularly stand out.  Open homophobia in the black community deserves discussion, especially in an era when an African-American president is advocating pro-gay legislature; but at the same time, the phrase "no homo" is quickly tacked on to even the most innocuous of proclamations in hip-hop culture.  This attempt just won't be the moderator.  Wilson also directs. Pacific Stages, 2041 Rosecrans Ave., El Segundo; Thurs.-Sat, 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; through May 16. (310) 868-2631 (Rebecca Haithcoat)


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