American Heart, Or A Truth About Love Between Races | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

American Heart, Or A Truth About Love Between Races 

Hostage Theater Company, at Cafe Voltaire

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American Heart, or a truth about love between races, Hostage Theater Company, at Cafe Voltaire. Since Hostage artistic director Samuel Lamar Jordan is acting as playwright, director, and 50 percent of the cast, and the other 50 percent is company managing director Lisa Dowda, the "truth" referred to in the title is presumably their own. And some of the scenes in this story of interracial courtship and marriage are refreshingly specific and candid: the massive misgivings that accompany the first introductions to the in-laws, for example. But when Jordan attempts to show the Big Picture the script sinks into cliche, as when the American Woman of European Descent is jeered by her peers for having a boyfriend who's an American Man of African Descent. (Why don't we hear what his peers call his girlfriend? And why doesn't this couple have any friends not focused on race?)

A director and cast less attached to the material would have offered an outside point of view that might have mitigated some of the script's flaws - the extraordinary amount of time wasted before we locate ourselves in each scene as well as the playwright's inevitable tendency to focus on his own character to the detriment of his partner. American Heart has a lotta heart; however, a few more brains might improve it.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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