Color Commentary

When it turns out that even these invalids have mysteriously vanished, the mayor goes on television, appealing to nigras everywhere to come out of hiding. He tells them they are missed, swears allegiance to Aunt Jemimah, and then does a jig to summon home his "help." In that highly charged moment, the playwright's anger emerges mid-dance, and the laughter that has long reverberated throughout the tiny theater suddenly fades away. Ward has got us in the palm of his hand, and Nickelson and his company wisely strengthen their hold on us through the end of the play.

There are few companies anywhere that could deliver this play as this group has done--packed with both raucous laughter and hard-hitting commentary. Carrington and Robinson, in particular, deliver performances that illuminate Ward's work rather than comment on it. Shadow Theatre Company is tackling issues that loom larger than ever these days and stands poised to offer itself as a prominent voice in the local theater community. That it is not the expected, anticipated voice of conciliation enforces our attention all the more.

Happy Ending and Days of Absence, through November 15 at the Ralph Waldo Emerson Center, 1420 Ogden Street, 292-6446.

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