The Right Reverend Dupree in Exile--Disease Versus God
Whatever you might think about the plays at Bedford-Stuyvesants Billie Holiday Theatre, you might very well find yourself moved to give a standing ovation to the audience. The crowdmostly local and femalethat fills the 200-seat theater engages vigorously with everything onstage, responding to the action with encouraging cries of Uh oh!, Oh no!, Mm-hmm!, and Amen! That last exclamation proves especially appropriate to The Right Reverend Dupree in Exile, a warmhearted if formulaic drama from Jackie Alexander, the playwright to whom the Billie Holiday has devoted its season. Set just before Christmas on the Louisiana bayou, it concerns the titular minister (Ralph McCain), who undergoes a crisis of faith following his diagnosis of ALS. The return of his two sonsone of whom arrives bearing a Muslim fiancéesets the stage for accusations, recriminations, and ultimately forgiveness.
As a writer, Alexander trots out plot points efficiently and includes plenty of finely observed detail. Hes somewhat less successful as a director, stalling the action with awkward scene changes and encouraging his actors to lay it on thick for the crowd. But the crowd didnt mind. They cheered and clapped throughout, as if hoping to drag the reverend back to righteousness with their praise alone.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in New York.