According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fringe/The 70% Club

Black women wait to exhale in this soap-opera/talk show-type drama about the difficulty in finding a mate, but while The 70% Club complains about the problem, it offers little more than “keep on keeping on.”

Photo/Ramona Whitworth

Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

Mary McCallum's The 70% Club is an ode to the plight of the single black woman. The title stems from the statistic introduced by Annette (uncomfortable as the Jezebel, Alicia Ridley) of the number of black women that live alone versus the 40% of white women and 50% of Hispanic women that endure the same status. To that end, McCallum introduces two couples—soon to be wed Deanna (bright and optimistic Mary McCallum) and Jackson (Darius Willis), and married (with two and a half kids) Cynthia (Tamiko Robinson) and Chris (Shawn Whitsell). She then trots out a two-years-single guy, James (David Chattam), who finds it hard to settle down, some comic relief from Lawrence (Rashad Rayford)’s gay percentage, and Melissa (Molly Hoekstra), the white point-of-view.

The 70% Club is filled with snappy lines of dialogue and solid performances—Whitsell is a natural and as charming as Flex Washington and Jene India owns every scene she's in as Matron of Honor, Louise—but there are no new insights on why so many black women are single. Instead, McCallum falls back on betrayals, abandonment, and Daddy-needing men. The crew deserves a round of applause for helping the cast of nine weave in and out of the cramped set pieces, but given the size of the theater, the playing area might just as easily have been more open. Things like that, plus the histrionics, cram the show into a soap opera/talk show hybrid rather than the compelling drama intended. Until The 70% Club gives us something new to chew on, it will only hold 70% of your interest.
The 70% Club (2 hours with intermission)
Theatres at 45 Bleecker St-The Lafayette
Tickets: $15

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