February 15, 2008
Black Gold at InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, PA
Theater: InterAct Theatre Company
Show Title: Black Gold
Opened: January 25, 2008
Seen: February 13, 2008
Reviewer: Amy Lewis
Submitted: February 14, 2008
InterAct Theatre Company certainly came into its 20th anniversary season with all guns blazing. Coming off of the success of their excellent production of Last of the Boys, InterAct is onto another smash with Black Gold, a sharply satirical send up of greed, class and race with plenty of poignant and thought-provoking moments interspersed throughout. There is much to laugh about and even more to think about as multiple storylines unfold.
Seth Rozin’s wild and intelligent play begins with a black inner-city father who seems to run into good fortune when an oil drill he purchases off of Ebay strikes an unknown source of crude in his backyard. With the best intentions in mind, he wants to improve the lives of his wife, son and community, but soon greed and prejudice get in the way with some tragic results. The action of the play reaches as far as the Israeli/Palestinian border and manages to affect everyone from the President to George Steinbrenner.
While this may all sound incredibly confusing, the talented cast of Black Gold bring to life dozens of characters with such clarity and distinction that the audience is never in doubt as to whom or what they are watching. Craig Alan Edwards, Delante G. Keys and Kaci M. Fannin bring enormous heart and sensitivity to their main characters – the father, son and mother in the main story, respectively. Their commitment to these characters leaves an emotional anchor on the play, keeping it rooted despite the absurdity taking place within it. The comic flair they bring to their secondary characters is equally impressive, but it is the primary roles they inhabit that enable the piece to arrive at its destination.
Sean Christopher Lewis, Maureen Torsney-Weir and Tim Moyer are also powerful forces on the stage. Lewis is hysterical as an array of minor characters, including a presidential aide, but it is his touching portrayal of David Abramsky, an Israeli actor eager to bring peace and love to the world and his own life, that really allows him to shine. Torsney-Weir is simply hilarious in every role she plays, bringing gusto and spunk to each one; her rebuttals during a series of presidential debates are amongst the comedic highlights of the show. Finally, Moyer, who is also excellent in several roles, is a riot as a befuddled and corrupt President, intent on winning votes and keeping the rich happy. His performance is so gleefully silly and energetic that it manages to rise above clichéd President jokes into an entirely new echelon or humor.
Seth Rozin’s script and direction are also at the heart of Black Gold’s success. Fast-paced and irreverent, post-modern and ironic, there is so much at work here that it is impossible to be bored. Referencing current events, pop culture and classic theatrical pieces, Black Gold works on so many levels that one doesn’t have to look very hard to find something they like. Moreover, both the piece and direction remain focused, never slipping into self indulgence or overkill – though absurd, it is never irrelevant or pointless in its humor, and its somber ending ensures that the message is lost on no one.
Though some may feel overwhelmed with political satire in the run-up to the election, one need not worry that Black Gold will merely be more of the same. With a fresh and intelligent slant on some long standing issues, Black Gold uncovers the humor and pathos inherent in the values and fears driving society at present. With an evening full of laughter and lessons for everyone, InterAct’s production of Black Gold ensures its audience strikes it rich.