Thursday, December 27, 2018

Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine

or the Re-Education of Undine
Signature Theatre
Pershing Square Signature Center
December 26, 2018

Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre
What happens when the life you create for yourself collapses around you, leaving you with no choice but to return to your family, who you turned your back on years earlier?  That is the dramatic question and story line of Lynn Nottage’s comedy, Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine.  Director Lileana Blain-Cruz finds the timing needed to deliver the laughs in the cutting humor and direct address of the main character.  Ms. Nottage’s play is full of social commentary and bitter sarcasm, yet offers a glimpse for a more hopeful tomorrow. 

Undine (played by Cherise Boothe) is a self-made, high powered, very successful PR exec, who calls all the shots with total disregard for everyone but herself.  When her husband, Herve (played by Ian Lassiter), drains her bank accounts and abandons her, she finds herself pregnant and destitute.  She returns to her family in Brooklyn, who, according to the stories she make up when she re-created herself after college, died in a fire.  The culture shock of her return to the housing projects is heightened when she is arrested for buying crack for her addicted Grandmother (played by Heather Alicia Simms).  As dark as things get, nothing is greater than her fear of having a baby and becoming a mother.

J. Bernard Calloway & Cherise Boothe
Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre
Charisse Boothe delivers a tremendous performance in the difficult and complex role of Undine.  She is brash, pushy, condescending, and unlikeable, yet Ms. Boothe keeps a hold of the audience’s attention as they engage in her character’s journey.  Each one of Undine’s outbursts peels back a layer of her harsh exterior until her vulnerable heart is finally exposed.  At that moment you realize that Ms. Boothe has been playing every one of Undine’s brutal traits with that susceptible heart, which is why you connected to her struggle from the start.

Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre
The cast is a brilliant ensemble, playing numerous and varied roles.  Funny, touching, and raw character are created by Mayaa Boateng, Marcus Callender, J. Bernard Calloway, Dashiell Eaves, Ian Lassider, Nikiya Mathis, and Heather Alicia Simms. 

Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine is playing at Pershing Square Signature Center through January 13.  There’s still time to get a ticket.

Domenick Danza

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