Reviewed by Michael Edwards
The West Coast premiere of Obie Award Winning and Pulitzer nominated playwright Nikkole Salter's, Lines In The Dust, is an exceptional new work at the Matrix Theatre. Tour de Force performances lay bare a focused examination of modern day classism and its ability to hide overt social evils thought lost to the past, in plain 'acceptable' sight (think 1950's 'red lining').
Directed with dynamic, exacting restraint by Desean Terry (star of Apple TV's The Morning Show and current Artistic Director of The Collaborative Artistic Bloc), Lines In The Dust explores the polarizing issue of American school zoning laws. For those unaware, should a parent lie about their actual address in order to get their child in a different school zone than the one allotted, they could suffer the penalty of 3 to 5 years in jail as well as stiff financial penalties, all for wanting their child to have a better education (search Kellie Williams Bolar now serving 3 to 5 years). The law's existence supports the fear that school districts located in wealthier areas seek to keep 'economic undesirables' away from their privileged opportunity.
At rise we meet two dynamic and beautiful, 'if not a bit too bougie' black women who appear to deepen an already solid sorority-like alliance as the scene goes on. The meeting takes place in the office of a high end Millburn, New Jersey school Principal's office as Principal Beverly Long, a focused, nuanced and magnificently grounded Kelly Jenrette, socializes with respectable parent Denitra Morgan, a riveting Erica Tazel. They are interrupted by the arrival of a Private Investigator, Michael DiMaggio, a measured and brilliant Tony Pasqualini, as he prepares to meet with Principal Long re the schools upcoming purge of illegal students attending the Millburn school. The world before us spirals down from there as Salter and Terry work to reveal a masterclass on a 'things are not always what they seem' storyline that all but shatters the audience.
The set design is exceptional. Sound and light are seamless. The ball never drops in this brave new work that seems to cry out beyond its plot line to a world that would do well to release old social tropes of classism and racism. A powerful production.
Matrix Theatre 7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046 (Street parking) Runs Thursday at 8pm, Friday at 8:30pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, Sunday at 2pm and 7:30pm thru December 10th.
For reservations: https://LinesintheDust.eventbrite.com
More information: call (310) 619-6322
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