In the Wake, Middletown, and Scottsboro Boys Enter the Discomfort Zone

New plays by Lisa Kron and Will Eno; Kander and Ebb hit Broadway

The songwriters and their librettist, David Thompson, sensed this sufficiently to frame the show with one such reverberation as if that could make the facile irony of the rest—the story is told as if by a blackface minstrel troupe—permissible. This stratagem fails because the juxtaposition defuses both gestures, just as the minstrel-style heartiness defuses the historical agony. You can sometimes please people by shocking them, but trying to please them and offend them at the same time achieves neither. The pity is that so much genuine talent was involved: Director-choreographer Susan Stroman scores with several effective numbers, at least two of the songs will probably linger, and the superbly able cast puts its whole heart into this parade of heartless poses. But even a brief glimpse at the historical facts—try the University of Missouri (Kansas City) Law School's excellent website on the case: www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scottsboro/scottsb.htm—reveals the show as merely a housefly on History's massive stone face.

East Village anxiety: Danielle Skraastad, Michael Chernus, and Marin Ireland in In the Wake
Joan Marcus
East Village anxiety: Danielle Skraastad, Michael Chernus, and Marin Ireland in In the Wake

Details

In the Wake
By Lisa Kron
The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street
212-539-8500, publictheater.org

Middletown
By Will Eno
The Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street
212-353-0303, vineyardtheatre.org

Scottsboro Boys
By David Thompson, John Kander, and Fred Ebb
Lyceum Theatre
149 West 45th Street
212-239-6200, scottsboromusical.com

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