Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’

A Gusty Production of “The Submission”

A Gusty Performance of “The Submission”.

<p>New Conservatory Theatre Center is presenting a gutsy performance of Jeff Talbott’s “The Submission” through December 16th. The 95 minute one act premiered at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Manhattan last year to good reviews.  Jeff Talbott, a actor, won the inaugural Laurents/Hatcher Award for emerging writers worth $150,000 for the work prior to its opening at the Greenwich Village section of New York.

Danny (Eric Kerr) a gay white budding playwright sends out his first play about an African-American woman and her son to the Humana Festival under the name Shaleeha G’ntamobi . The play seriously sounds if it has been written by a person of color. The work is accepted by the Festival in Louisville.

Now Danny has a problem. Once the play is starting to take shape on the stage of the festival and they find out it was written by Danny will Humana Festival continue with the production. So Danny being one cagey person hires a black actress Emilie (Sam Jackson) to pretend to be him.  He’ll reveal all when the time is right.  It looks like Danny has the right plan but things go wrong and the plot thickens and sickness when Emilie starts to feel proprietary about the assignment. Now the audience sees Danny disturbing true colors since he is a closeted raciest.  This even shocks his liberal thinking boyfriend Peter (Alec Kirschner) and his straight best friend Trevor (Chris Morrell)

“The Submission” does expose the undercurrents of racism that have informed the inner thoughts of Danny and he uses subtle language when he uses the word “cocoa puff” early on with Emile who feels wrong about some of the wording in the play.  Once the couple is into the  production of the play the once friendly relationship sharply fades into a confrontation of “hate” words between Danny and Emilie.  There is an explosive scene between them toward the end of the play when all hell breaks loose as each accuse each other of how either gays or blacks are now running the world of theatre.  This undoubtedly is the best scene in this drama.

Jeff Talbott has written an intriguing play that raises absorbing ideas about writing new plays in this rapid pace drama. It is filled with swearwords and slur-laden dialogue and is full of clever inside-theatre jokes. The main focus of the play is in on adopted racism and mutual black-gay resentments.  The play does not answer any of these questions but it does give the audience something to think about.

Eric Kerr gives a gutsy performance as Danny but it takes him a while to get into the character (at least on opening night) however that said I am sure he will get into the role in the weeks ahead.  However as the play progresses he shines in the role of a protagonist especially in the later scenes.

Sam Jackson new to the stage is vibrant as Emilie. She emerges as a full-fledge person who beautifully evolves in this production. However both need to cut down on the rapid platter between them especially at the beginning of the drama which I am sure will be accomplished as they get more into their roles.

Chris Morrell  and Alex Kirschner are very good in their small roles doing what they can in these underdeveloped roles  especially when Trevor suddenly develops a romantic relationship with Emilie.  Ben Randle directed the actions as a rapid clip and maybe a little too rapidly in some of the scenes.  Productions in this middle size theatre can be a problem with directors and in this case one major opening scene that sets up the plot could have been better utilize if the two leading characters sitting a table could have been more stage center instead of extreme stage right.

Kuo-Hoa Lo’s set is an interesting black and white set with it blank wall projecting scenes for the changing locales.

<p>The Submission</i> runs through December 16th at the The Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness off Market Street, San Francisco.  For tickets go to www.nctcsf.org  Coming up next is <i>The Marvelous Wonderettes</i> opening on November 30 and running through January 13th.