“We either settle or we go mad.”
Ann and Rachelle, literature professors at rival schools, meet at an upscale café for a celebration dinner. Colleagues of circumstance more than friends, they’re the only two black educators in a 150-mile radius.
When they arrive, the café is empty—not even a chair. A chipper elderly waitress brings out their prix fixe meal, but each course offers a fresh indignity: water with no glasses, a single salad that must be eaten by hand (no sharing allowed). Ann treats it like a silly game. Rachelle isn’t amused, but she’ll take crumbs over nothing.
Gradually, the professors compete over the available food, debating the efficacy of Black History Month, the artist’s obligation to address race, and the artificial scarcity of black criticism in light of multicultural trends.
Local playwright Idris Goodwin writes delicious academic discourse, effortlessly blending references from The Wire to Michael Eric Dyson. The name game—where Ann and Rachelle prove their worth by volleying back and forth the white artists they’ve studied—cuts deep.
Haley King crackles as Rachelle. The character’s cynical outlook could easily turn sour, but King makes her an acerbic delight, enriched by surprise vulnerabilities.
Olivia Langley brings a looser energy to Ann. Her “just play the game” charm initially masks her intellect, but she’s more than capable of standing toe-to-toe with King when the knives come out.
As the evening takes a dark turn, Ann and Rachelle must decide whether to stand in solidarity or let the all-consuming nature of their profession reach its inevitable conclusion. Bon appétit!
The evening begins with an “appetizer” of spoken word from local poets.
Given the themes of this play, we should disclose that the reviewer… majored in literary criticism. He’s also a white male, who has on occasion been guilty of the intellectual voyeurism satirized by Goodwin’s script.
“Blackademics” contains harsh language (including casual use of the N-word) and grim humor.
UCCS Theatre Company at
Osborne Studio Theatre, University Hall
1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy
Playing November 10 – 19, 2017
Admission: $5 general; UCCS students free
Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes