There are three plays opening this weekend and they may be among the most curiosity-spurring shows of the young year, each for a different reason. How does Bert Royal bring the Peanuts gang into their teenage years for “Dog Sees God?” How will Sycamore Rouge and AART blend together for “Jitney?” And what the heck is “Legacy of Light” even about?
I am cautiously hopeful about each of these productions. As the father of two teenagers, I’m kind of sick of shows that treat adolescents as joke fodder and little else (one of my very few beefs with “This Beautiful City”). Teenagers may be maddening, confused and even ridiculous but they are also struggling with one of the toughest transitions that people have to make. Based on what little I know about it, I can see the potential for “Dog Sees God” to be a two-hour long joke at teenagers’ expense. But I’m hopeful Mr. Maupin will encourage more shades and nuance in his production.
Preliminary reports I’ve heard (from biased sources, granted) suggest that “Jitney” is going to be great. This is a very eloquent play in its own street-wise way, and if the right actors are guided well, it can have the snap and pop of a great jazz performance. But it’s also thin on plot and relatively lengthy so the potential for drag is definitely there. My hope is that the influence of Sycamore Rouge – which has done an exceptional job at staging classics like “Streetcar” and “The Crucible” – will be seen in an AART production that hits all of the right notes.
I think “Legacy of Light” faces some of the same challenges Richmond Shakespeare’s “Arcadia” did last year. It’s a show with two plotlines set in different centuries and apparently employs some rich language. It’s female-centric and deals with real and relatively complicated issues. But I expect, like “Arcadia,” it is also funny and engaging. It seems like “Arcadia” found its audience; I’m hopeful audiences will be able to get over the vagueness and unfamiliarity of the title and give “Legacy” a fair shot as well.