It’s Friday, but I’m in Washington (and in a blessedly iBook-free state), so Our Girl in Chicago has been kind enough to post my weekly Wall Street Journal theater teaser for me, bless her.
Anyway, I reviewed two plays this morning, Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation, a new play by the author of Intimate Apparel, and Charlie Victor Romeo, an off-off-Broadway performance piece based on transcripts of the black-box recordings of six airplane crashes.
Fabulation is terrific:
Unlike the simple, poignant “Intimate Apparel,” “Fabulation” is a sardonic look at the complicated life of Undine Barnes Calles (Charlayne Woodard), a credit-card-carrying member of the black bourgeoisie whose husband empties out her bank account and blows town, leaving her broke and pregnant. Undine, we discover, is a hoity-toity Dartmouth grad who changed her name from Tameka Jo Greene, disowned her working-class Brooklyn family and started “my very own fierce boutique PR firm catering to the vanity and confusion of the African American nouveau riche.” Now she makes the long journey home to Brooklyn, scared to death and fumbling to figure out her next move.
The sassily appealing Ms. Woodard leads a spot-on ensemble cast, and Kate Whoriskey, the director, puts them through their paces like a team of thoroughbreds. What lifts “Fabulation” well above the level of a don’t-get-above-your-raising soap opera, though, is the shiv-sharp wit with which Ms. Nottage hacks away at the clich