Last week, we went to see buddy Afton C. Williamson, who has stepped into the starring role of Susan in David Mamet’s hot-button Broadway play, Race. Afton was every bit as fabulous as I would have expected, and the role turned out to be a very juicy one! It was great seeing her take advantage of it, and claim her space alongside wonderful co-stars Eddie Izzard (whom we also loved in the stunning Joe Egg revival a few years back, as well as in his one-man standup shows), Dennis Haysbert (super in the play, and maybe one of the nicest smiles on Broadway), and Richard Thomas (whom we loved in Terrence McNally’s fascinating Prelude and Liebestod). Izzard and Haysbert are beautifully matched as a lethal (and very real) pair of lawyers, Thomas radiates the utter blindness of an overprivileged party boy, and Afton deftly supplies the necessary Mamet “spark” to kindle the flames. All were excellent, and all were clearly having a great time with each other, playing out Mamet’s sly, twisty, and provocative plot. I recall the reviews dubbing this play a lesser work, but I’d have to disagree. I think it’s economical, and makes its points beautifully. It throws the audience into a race-related legal situation, and stirs up the plot repeatedly with little revelations so that as audience members we’re constantly questioning who to root for, and whether our own racial prejudices might be affecting our sympathies. Having whacked the hornet’s nest, Mamet ends the play abruptly, leaving us to continue the discussion outside the theatre. Afton has the last line, and delivers it like a cannon volley over the prow of a well-armed battleship. It’s an extremely clever play, and also very funny despite the serious topic at hand. If you haven’t already seen it, you really should. It closes August 21st.
After the show, we went backstage to congratulate Afton, and she invited us to meet her co-stars. We had a great time chatting; what a gracious, funny, lovely bunch! They clearly have a wonderful time together offstage as well. Congrats to all!