Aaron Kopp | email@example.com
“The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years” transports the audience to the site of an important turning point in American history: Montgomery, Alabama. The year is1964 and figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. are alluded to in the background, but the play centers, but the play centers on one family: the Dunbars. The family has a unique relationship with the civil rights movement. They are a pillar of the Nacirema Society, an association of high-class Black Montgomeryites. The traditionalist matriarch of the family, Grace Dubose Dunbar is played by Lisa Hill-Corley. Grace clashes with the progressive worldview of her granddaughter, the debutante for the Nacirema’s centennial ball, and the ever-changing world that threatens the society’s traditionalist ethics. “Everyone was scrambling to get their maids to work on time, ” Grace scoffed while discussing the Montgomery bus boycott. Though the play first debuted at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in 2013, the production still feels relevant. Comments on the nature of progress, and the people who feel the world changing around them, feel particularly pointed in today’s climate. In addition to being relevant, the play is just a good time. Director Elenore Tapscott keeps these themes in a forefront, while not losing the comedy in the process. The show switches seamlessly between drama and romantic comedy and the cast absolutely keeps up. The chemistry among the cast made the show a pleasure to watch. The rapport between Grace Dubose Dunbar and Catherine Adams Green, played by Lisa Hill-Corley and Robin Lynn Reaves, respectively is impressive. As the eldest living members of their respective families, Grace and Catherine represent an old guard of Nacirema Society. The actors play their conservatism and wit well. Hill-Corley particularly drives the plot forward with her impeccable timing, both comedic and dramatic. Jacquel Tomlin, playing Alpha Campbell Jackson, also brings a forceful performance to the stage. Alpha acts as foil to the elder Dunbars. As an outsider to the wealthy world the Nacirema society represents, Alpha impressively disrupts the comfortable lives of the high class characters. The majority of the play is set in the lavish Dunbar home. Leather clad books and portraits of family members make clear the high status of the Dunbars by the time the curtains rise. Set designers Ken Brown and Peter Mumford, along with a large team of painters, decorators and constructors, create a world that looks shockingly lived in. “Nacirema” is produced by Stacy Becker, Ira Forstater and with the assistance of Mariana Aza Renée. Aracely Ode serves as the assistant director. Costumes were designed by Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley. Props were designed by Sabrina McAllister. Additional cast members include Selina Tom-Johnson as Gracie Dunbar and Tiffany Morina, Kellie Santos-DeJesus as Marie Dunbar, Evin Howell as Bobby Green, Jummy Lash as Lillie Campbell Jackson, Kamilah Lawson as Janet Logan and Juanisha Brooks, and Barbra Cooper as Jessie Roberts. Funny and topical, all should accept an invitation to attend the celebration of the first one hundred years of the Nacirema Society.