Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review For A Walk in the Dark 2002

Note: I'm gearing up to finalize negotiations to remount my second solo show, El Hijo Prodigo, and my long term goals with the piece are to take it on the road. In preparation of that endeavor, I'm digging up old reviews for my first solo show, A Walk in the Dark, which received two. This one from the local alt-weekly, and another, which can't be found online anymore -- in fact, I had to obtain a copy from the Seattle Public Library, bless their souls. In order to have it available on line, I am transcribing that review, so that at least the two extremes of critical thought on the piece are represented...I used to have a shtick talking about the subjectivity of criticism, and these two reviews are a perfect example, as they both saw the exact same performance. - ja

A Walk In The Dark at Open Circle Theater

Seattle. Home of (sometimes) sublimated race politics. With our guarded language and left-wing evasions, where can we go to find the dynamics of diversity nakedly doing their weird, too often ugly dance? Buses. Metro buses, school buses, Greyhound buses. With fury and violence, or, more often, a no-less-deadly quiet politeness, buses are where the politics of sitting, talking, laughing and looking go down.

José Amador knows this, and chose buses as the thematic center of his brilliant one-person show A Walk in the Dark. A child of Puerto Rican parents, Amador's whiteness, blackness, bothness and neitherness don't square with America's crippling binary framing of the "race problem" as a black/white issue -- and he's not afraid to laugh about it. But this "semi-autobiographical look at race and homogeneity" laughs bitterly as well as gleefully.

Bearing blows from self-styled American blacks and whites alike, A Walk in the Dark's narrator tries to find his footing in an unimaginative either/or world of culture blocs built and driven by we who identify as Y-folks or Z-folks. The very categories we use to make sense of our world confound Amador, and he performs a convincing argument as to why our cultural logic is profoundly senseless.

A Walk in the Dark does one of art's critical jobs -- it tells us things about ourselves with a gutsy energy that our politicians and press can't or won't attempt. It tells us with an encouraging, humane voice, not pedantic and self-righteous, not simply wallowing in the gore of race politics.

The theater is a tiny place and was perhaps half full. This is, in its way, disappointing -- Amador has crafted a well-written, well-paced show everyone in the Americas (and many beyond) can enjoy and learn from. Nevertheless, theater is important the way graduate seminars and startling encounters on buses are -- though few people have the opportunity to participate in them, their ideas and revelations work themselves out to impact the world at large.

Amador's is one of these important seeds. Count yourself lucky that A Walk in the Dark is being performed anywhere, and even luckier if you get to see it. Has no one else in Seattle yet reviewed A Walk in the Dark? A quick internet search of our major papers' archives comes up negative. For shame. José Amador is giving us one of the most remarkable works of theater -- no, art -- this city has seen in a long time.

Brendan Kiley
Tablet Magazine, July 25 - August 7, 2002


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