Thought provoking plays on Broadway are always a treasure. The stories often leave the audience with so much to think and talk about even if the subject is one that is quite uncomfortable. This seems to be the case for “Smart People”, new play by Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly), helmed by Kenny Leon (The Wiz), the Tony Award®-winning director of the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun.
Within the context of the story, there is the quest for love, achievement and identity. This is universal subject, but the underlying question is what role does race play in the story of our lives?
The journey is set on the eve of Obama’s first election, and deals with four Harvard intellectuals that find themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics. The interactions are provocative and funny but will leave many to question if things have gotten for the better to worse in America. The cast includes:
Mahershala Ali who is best known for his role on the award-winning Netflix series “House of Cards,” as lobbyist and press secretary Remy Danton. On stage, he plays Jackson, a smart and charismatic doctor working hard to help others, set goals and prove his place in this competitive medical world. He is sometimes frustrated by his superiors.
Joshua Jackson who is well-known for many movie and television roles, but probably most notably for when he came on the scene in the hit TV show “Dawson’s Creek.” He takes on the character of Brian. As a part of his research study, he takes on the stereotypes of race in society. During his research, he soon discovers that many of his findings are some of the things he actually feels himself.
Anne Son has acted and can be seen on various television shows such as “My Generation and “Fargo”, She plays the role of Ginny. She is the very intelligent. sexy, shopaholic doctor who wants to help others and also fight the stereotypes she sees that are imposed on her by others. She is a bit abrasive, but her heart is in the right place.
Tessa Thompson plays Valerie and is best known for her lead role as Dear White People” and “Creed.” She is a beautiful and artsy grad student/actress who is still figuring her way out. Her parents want her to strive for more, but acting is her passion. She has to deal with her studies, her parents and finding herself in the world.
They are lead separate lives for a while, then circumstance happen and they come together as two, then finally as four at a dinner setting. This meeting of the four causes secret thoughts and prejudices to erupt. The play is perfect for this particular time and racism seems to be out front and center even in this Presidential Race. Audiences will leave with many thoughts and may even have to look within themselves to see what they indeed feel about others.
For more information on the play, visit the 2econdStageTheater website.