Cara Gabriel’s solo show entitled I Am the Gentry deals with a subject that has been seen onstage before. The topic of neighborhood gentrification has been fodder for a couple of well-known plays including the Pulitzer Prize winner Clybourne Park.
…an interesting premise…
Gabriel tells the story of how she and her husband bought their first house in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in the early 2000s in and around H Street. The neighborhood has many colorful characters including a woman who erected a shrine to Michael Jackson after his death and makes people dance while they are there to take pictures. There is also the matriarch of the block who has been there longer than anyone else. Her husband does a daily clean up of garbage in front of their house.
Gabriel’s show is set as if she is telling her stories to us on her patio which is fine but it is quite off-putting when her script is never out of sight or out of hand. Her day gig is as an assistant professor of theatre at American University so the fact that Gabriel really never got off book is something I find to be inexcusable. Her pauses to turn pages took me right out of the action.
Director Chelsea Thaler has tried to give Gabriel some variance in her characterizations but for the most part everything feels the same.
Overall I Am the Gentry, while having an interesting premise, doesn’t succeed as a piece of theatre.
Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.
I Am the Gentry plays through July 25th 2015 at Hyman M. Perlo Studio at Dance Place which is located at 3225 8th St NE, Washington, DC.
For tickets, click here.
For info on Capital Fringe, click here.