RED WHITE BLACK & BLUE
nytheatre.com review by Joanne Joseph
Julie Polk is a classical actor who
can translate massively powerful emotional work into contemporary
idioms, without pretense, falsity, or any other detrimental aspects.
This is a rarity and a gift to audiences.
August 15, 2002
I will not give away the whole story line of her one person show Red White Black & Blue, so as not to diminish in any way the impact it has. The "set" at the Collective Unconscious Theatre consists only of a high-placed window; and on stage is Polk, one chair, and Tom Gavin, with guitar and other smaller items which make musical under-scorings. I sometimes think The Spoken Word should be left alone—the guitar strumming caused us to lose some text at times, but at other times did enhance the moods.
The window, I surmise, is significant, as it looks down on the scene of a brutal event involving Jessie Howard, a 74-year-old black man who is a WW II veteran, and two young punks, on the Fourth of July. Polk, of course, with voice and body is fully the old man and the young boys.
Interwoven with the above-mentioned event on America's most patriotic holiday is the family strife concerning a drug addict brother, and two parents—a scornful mother and an apparently unloving father. Polk's persona attempts to achieve a family-togetherness holiday, which fails completely. She, the only one on stage, amazingly is all the other people at home too, as well as on the street beneath the window.
Naomi Barr has directed the proceedings tightly. Red White Black & Blue is a deeply moving reflection on levels of violence, macro and micro, horrendous and heart-rending. It deserves to be seen by larger audiences.