Honky - Theatre Review

A review by Rachel Flanagan.
Honky is a dark, inappropriate comedy filled with guilt-ridden stereotypes and racial slurs that will make you laugh uncontrollably from start to finish.   This is not a comedy for the easily offended or the politically correct because real life is offensive, politically incorrect, filled with self-induced guilt and racism because even if you think you are not a racist, you probably are.

(Left; Burl Moseley and Bruce Nozick. Photos by John Perrin Flynn)

Welcome to the mind of playwright Greg Kalleres and his hilarious play that is part play, part basketball commercial and part psychology and medical exam.  Rogue Machine Theatre brings you a diagnosis that you may be racist, you may suffer from white guilt or black guilt, but don't worry, there is help available and you are not alone.  In the end, you'll find yourself with a prescription for laughter that will cure any of your racial indiscretions with only the usual side effects.

(Right: Tasha Ames and James Liebman)

At the heart, Honky is a dark comedy about an advertising company focusing on basketball shoes for the urban (or black, or African American if you prefer) community. The company, Sky Max, has hired Davis Tallison (Bruce Nozick), a white (or Caucasian) man, to help make the urban shoes appeal to the white community.  Davis has no white guilt, he grew up in Chicago, he's a salesman, he is just saying what needs to be said to sell. Thomas Hodge (Burl Moseley), the designer behind the Sky Max shoes is heavily focused on creating the best version of these shoes that will make the urban community proud.  This shoe is going to be his way out of the black guilt he suffers, for being a black man who did not grow up a stereotype but instead grew up in a wealthy neighborhood with money thanks to his sister, Emilia Hodge (Inger Tudor), having a successful career as a psychology.  Emilia, prides herself on remembering her mantra, "they're not white people, they're people with problems." But it seems she also suffers from black guilt because the people whose problems all seem to be well off white people like her newest client, Peter Trammel (James Liebman).

(Left: Inger Tudor and James Liebman)

While Davis and Thomas work for Sky Max shoes, Peter is the advertiser who created the most recent commercial that has him suffering from white guilt. In the commercial, which happens to be the start of the play, two black kids are playing basketball until one of them turns the shoe into a gun.  It seems the shoes have become so popular in the urban communities that kids have started using real guns to get the shoes and now one kid has ended up dead.  Peter feels like it's his fault and goes on and on about his white guilt to Emilia, even stooping as far as asking her out to relieve him of the guilt he suffers.  Then there is Peter's fiance, Andie Chastain (Tasha Ames).  To an outsider, Andie appears to be a rich white girl who is as ignorant as she is a ditzy blonde, but the truth is that she just does not feel that white guilt or the need to think about what she says before she says it for fear of possibly offending anyone.  A chance meeting between Thomas and Andie bring the two together and make Thomas rethink his black guilt as Peters guilt spirals out of control and Davis soon finds himself out of a job because apparently being from Chicago does not give him a free pass to say certain things.  The story comes to a hilarious ending when Dr. Driscoll shows up to cure racism and bigotry with a daily pill.

The ensemble is completed with Ron Bottita playing Dr. Driscoll and a variety of other characters like Abraham Lincoln, and Matthew Hancock and Christian Henley brilliantly filling in the roles of black kids on the subway, Frederick Douglass, and other comedic inserts.  Every aspect of the theatre production is covered from pre-show and set change music, fast and clever set changes with strategic dance moves and even the pre-show announcement reminding folks to silence their cellphones was themed appropriately with the show.  The cast made each character real and relatable with great comedic timing and composure during even the most inappropriately funny scenes.

If you are an uptight prude who does not like to laugh at reality, this show is not for you; but if you can see the comedy in race, language, consumerism, political correctness and laugh at yourself in situations that might make others squirm, then Honky is definitely for you.

Listen to interviews with the cast:


This production contains adult language, flashing lights and loud sounds and may not be appropriate for all audiences.
Friday May 6th through Sunday June 12, 2016.
Friday and Saturday 8:30PM, Sundays 3PM
Met Theatre
1089 N. Oxford Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90019


Posted By Rachel Flanagan on May 11, 2016 01:35 pm | Permalink