Slave Play is Brutally Honest, Gripping, And Deeply Relevant

- Advertisement -

The topics of slavery and racism are difficult ones in history. We’ve seen both on film and in television. Yet there are other important factors to consider- race, the issue of identity, and the role of power relations. How does racism persist in today’s world, even after slavery has been abolished for more than a century? And is there an answer to this problem?

Such is the case for Slave Play, a new Broadway production written by Jeremy O. Harris. Directed by Robert O’Hara, the play examines these factors with three particular couples. At times, it has a level of black comedy, but it also gets quite serious with regard to issues of race, sexuality, and trauma.

Slave Play
How does racism survive, even after slavery has been long since abolished?

Act One begins with what appears to be life on a plantation in Virginia. Kaneisha is a house slave, and Jim is an overseer. Alana is the wife of the homeowner, while Philip is her mulatto servant. Dustin is an indentured white labourer, while the black Gary relishes being his supervisor. Rounding out the cast are Patricia and Teal, a lesbian couple who are studying the effects of Racialized Inhibiting Disorder.

- Advertisement -

Without giving away a certain plot twist, the second and third acts examine how trauma persists. Harris’ script shows there are similarities between slavery and current racism and how microaggressions continue to marginalize racial minorities. One major element of the play is black erasure, because the white characters struggle (and at times fail) to recognize and name their partners’ race. Jim clearly loves Kaneisha, but he feels uncomfortable with the way she looks at him and doesn’t know what to do about it. Kaneisha explains this is due to Jim’s inability to acknowledge his own whiteness and power. Special praise must be given to actress Joaquina Kalukango, who delivers a dramatic, compelling performance as Kaneisha.

Another important aspect is the interracial politics between LGBT couples. For example, Dustin and Gary live in a predominantly black community, but the former wants to move to a more gentrified neighbourhood. Their relationship is further complicated by Dustin’s identifying as non-white, which thereby erases Gary.

One problem the white characters have is their inability to recognize or name their partners’ race.

O’Hara’s direction gives equal weight to all three couples and two scholars. We go from domestic scenes of life in the antebellum South to a deeper examination of interracial relationships. Appropriately enough, the Rhianna song “Work” is played at intervals in the show; the lyrics of which are about a fragile relationship. The set of Slave Play is minimal, with the backdrop being a series of mirrors reflecting the audience. By doing so, this brings to mind the use of mirrors in Cabaret. This causes us to look at reflect on ourselves and the society in which we live.

Slave Play is blunt, engaging, and reflective. Harris’s writing is spot on, witty, and deeply honest. The story makes one consider the world in which we live. It also poses the question of whether or not there is an answer to the trauma of racism. One can expect this is a play that will continue to be revived, long after it has left Broadway.

- Advertisement -


Mrs. America | Season 1: Betty Preview | FX

In the 1970s, women fought back. Watch Mrs. America April 15, exclusively on FX on Hulu. Subscribe now for more Mrs. America clips: Mrs. America recounts the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the unexpected backlash led by Phyllis Schlafly, aka “the sweetheart of the silent majority.” Through the eyes of…

Top 15 Movie Quotes from Troop Zero That Will Make Your Day

If these Troop Zero movie quotes don't give you all the warm fuzzies, then we don't know what will. » Watch Troop Zero now exclusively with your Prime membership: » SUBSCRIBE: About Troop Zero: In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl dreams of life in outer space. When a national competition offers her…

Star Trek: Picard – A Happy Reunion (Ep. 9, “Et In Arcadia Ego, Part 1”)

Jean-Luc Picard and the motley crew reunite with Elnor and Seven of Nine aboard the crash-landed Artifact. Stream all-new episodes of Star Trek: Picard on Thursdays, exclusively in the U.S. on CBS All Access. Stream all-new episodes of "Star Trek: Picard" on Thursdays, exclusively in the U.S. on CBS All Access. Subscribe To "CBS All…

Nancy Drew | Season 1 Episode 8 | Preview The Episode | The CW

Continue watching this entire Nancy Drew episode right now on The CW: . Stream new episodes of Nancy Drew Thursdays, free only on The CW. SUBSCRIBE: About NANCY DREW: Nancy Drew (Kennedy McMann) is a brilliant teenaged detective whose sense of self had come from solving mysteries in her hometown of Horseshoe Bay,…

Ezekiel Says Goodbye | The Walking Dead Sneak Peek: Season 10, Episode 14

Ezekiel and Jerry lay their cards on the table. Don’t miss the next episode of The Walking Dead, Sunday, March 29 at 9/8c. Watch from The Walking Dead: Subscribe to The Walking Dead on YouTube: #WalkingDead #TheWalkingDead THE WALKING DEAD: Like The Walking Dead on Facebook: Follow The Walking Dead on Twitter:…

Outlander | Caitriona Balfe on Claire’s New Surgery | STARZ

Claire’s got a brand new surgery. Hear Caitriona Balfe talk about her new space at Fraser’s Ridge. Watch new episodes of Outlander Sundays only on STARZ. #Outlander #STARZ Watch Outlander now on the STARZ App: Subscribe now for more Outlander content: Like Outlander on Facebook: Follow Outlander on Twitter: Follow Outlander on…

Outlander | Sam Heughan Discusses Jamie’s Big Moment In The Gathering | Season 5

The Gathering at Fraser’s Ridge gave us goosebumps. Hear Sam Heughan talk about this moment from Season 5, Episode 1. Watch new episodes of Outlander Sundays only on STARZ. #Outlander #STARZ Watch Outlander now on the STARZ App: Subscribe now for more Outlander content: Like Outlander on Facebook: Follow Outlander on Twitter:…

Batwoman | The Tech Behind The Tech | The CW

Find out what it takes to create all the Bat tech, brought to you by AT&T 5G! Stream Batwoman free only on The CW. SUBSCRIBE: About BATWOMAN: Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) soars through the shadowed streets of Gotham as Batwoman. But don’t call her a hero yet. In a city desperate for a savior,…


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here