The KC Melting Pot Theatre will bring to stage the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winning play “Fairview” from Feb. 9 through Feb. 18 at Just Off Broadway Theatre, 3051 Penn Valley Dr.
This is a play that takes on racism, prejudice, White privilege and advantage head on and not necessarily in a way that makes people comfortable. About half way through, what starts off as a lighthearted comedy takes an uncomfortable turn.
The play is set in the home of the Frasers a Black middle class family. The wife Beverly is planning a birthday party for the family’s grandmother. Her husband Dayton helps, Relatable family drama surfaces as Beverly attempts to make the celebration perfect, and tension arises between Jasmine – Beverly’s sister – and Anni – Beverly’s daughter.
Act two involves the same action the audience saw in the first act, but with a twist. There appears to be a radio glitch, and while the family is seen mimicking the same actions, what they’re hearing instead is a group of White characters who are watching and commenting – most often negatively – on their perceptions about this family, their Blackness, and negatively about Blackness in general.
Jackie Sibles Drury, the playwright, calls the concept of the scene “being watched while Black.” But it’s about more than being watched, it’s about being watched and making judgements.
During these discussions, a broad range of opinions and racial stereotypes highlight how universal these attitudes are and how the characters discussing them are extremely abject.
In the final act, the White characters who were commenting on Blackness in the second act arrive at the birthday party playing members of the Fraiser family, dressed-like and portraying their stereotypical characterizations of family members.. Keisha, who is becoming increasingly upset by White people trying to “fit into Black discomfort” turns and acknowledges the audience pulling them into the play and asking White members of the audience if they would like to join the other White characters on stage.
Keisha’s long speech to the audience ends the play with a plea for everyone to look at each other, see each other, and treat each other with fairness.
Reactions to the play, which ran in New York for a year, have varied widely, but that works .Racism and individual experiences with it are unique. So, reactions to the play will be unique.
Does Fairview go too far or does it not go far enough? You decide.
The play runs Thursday. Feb. 9 through Sat. Feb. 11 and Wed. Feb. 15 through Sat. Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. There is one matinee showing on Sat. Feb 11 at 2 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit: https://bit.ly/3XawjgD