Sunday, June 7, 2009

Caroline, or Change

Last Wednesday, I went to see The Guthrie's production of Tony Kushner's Caroline, or Change. I'd heard/read nothing but good things. The Guthrie is even receiving national attention for the Kushner revival. Anyway, it was more or less described to me as a must-see. So, I naturally decided I must see it. We went for day-of rush tickets, which is an amazing deal. Especially for a sparsely attended weeknight performance where good seats are still available.

I enjoy the theater, and I am still proud of my handful of GW Hatchet play reviews. Sadly, I don't always make more of an effort to go, and this time I'm sure glad I did. Here's my mini-review.

The play was overhyped. Let me underhype it a bit so that if you live in Minneapolis and decide to see the show, you will not have impossible-to-live-up-to expectations like I did.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way... the play is a musical. All the singers had exceptionally strong voices, and I thoroughly enjoyed the music. The setting is Louisiana, 1963, and the play focuses on the tension between a young white Jewish boy and his black maid. Hailing from Atlanta, I was especially intrigued by the social commentary pitting the blacks and the Jews at odds in the south.

Notably, Caroline, the black maid, was magnificent as a determined, rigid, dignified black woman. Her moment of catharsis (this is not a spoiler, merely Tragedy in Drama 101) marks the first time I've ever cried at the theater. Also, the Jewish stepmother was brilliant as a sympathetic woman who cannot, try as she might, get her stepson--or his father to love her.

I highly recommend the show with the caution that it is long (at nearly 3 hours) and the children's performances are wooden yet still likable.

For those reading from afar, enjoy this clip from the intro.

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