|Jonathan Groff and Rutina Wesley. Photo © Joan Marcus
By Jeff Talbott
Directed by Walter Bobbie
Danny (Jonathan Groff) finally has one of his plays accepted for production in a prestigious play festival, but there's just one problem. The author's name is not his. It's Shaleeha G’ntamobi, a "Black" sounding women's he made up because he was sure that if he used his own name, the play would be rejected. After all, no one would believe that a young, gay, white guy could truly understand the plight of the black woman trying to get out of the projects. He hires actress Emilie (Rutina Wesley, know to TV's "True Blood" fans) to play the part of the author and he coaches her as she attends rehearsals and oversees rewrites as the play is produced.
At first, things seem to go well and Danny's partner, Pete (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and best friend, Trevor (Will Rogers) enjoy adding another friend to their circle. Things get complicated, however, when Emilie and Trevor tangle romantically, and Emilie and Danny start to clash on controlling aspects of the play. After a while, it's not clear who, if anyone, has an exclusive claim on prejudice.
Tight direction and strong performances. Emilie and Danny get in each others' faces about every kind of prejudice. Laugh-out-loud, make-you squirm stuff you have heard or thought, and particularly amusing if you work in theater. Talbott's first play is full of sizzling dialogue, clever turns of phrase and a welcome boldness. Thoroughly enjoyable.
After a brisk pace, the ending seems a little stretched out.
The Submission runs Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St., NYC through Oct. 22. Tickets: (212) 352 3101.
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