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March 2009 Archives

March 7, 2009

The Book of Lambert by Leslie Lee (LaMaMa, New York - Directed by Cindy Marion. February 14 - March 1, 2009)

According to the dramaturg's notes in the program, Leslie Lee composed "The Book of Lambert" some 30 years ago and over the past several years has workshopped the play extensively. But despite the evident attention that Lee has given to his "child" to contemporize and re-fashion it, it still feels like the script of a younger writer, and the better part of valor may have been to let the three-decade-old unproduced script stay tucked away. Without a strong directorial hand by Cindy Marion, "Lambert" is, by turns, an inert, bombastic, banal, and repetitive story about a young African-American man, Lambert (Clinton Faulkner), who, rejected by by his white lover Virginia (Heather Massie), hides out in an abandoned part of the subway system inhabited by five other escapees from the upper world: child-abused and pregnant Bonnie (Joresa Blount), nymphomaniacal Priscilla (Sadrina Johnson), the elderly couple Zinth and blind Otto (Gloria Sauvé and Arthur French), and Clancy, a white Irish-American cop (Howard Wieder). Each has his or her own tale of woe, and Lee sets up the situation so that Lambert ends up using their travails as a way to work through the pain of Virgina's rejection -- in other words, "The Book of Lambert" becomes the book of the play we're watching. But for two-and-a-half hours this "book" moves without sure-footedness among the several elements that make up its chapters: echoes of Beckett as well as Gorky's "The Lower Depths, confessional monologue, racial stereotyping, and philosophizing about the purgative power of pain and the destructive pleasures of love. Some of the performances are worth the watching, especially by Johnson and Sauvé, but by the end, when Lambert decides to surface and face the rest of his life, the only thing I could feel was relief at being able to escape the theatre. Now that Lee has gotten "Lambert" its first full production and added that to his resume, it may be time to reshelve the "Book" and move on to other projects.

Michael Bettencourt

About March 2009

This page contains all entries posted to QREVIEWS in March 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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