Review: Firecracker Production's PIPELINE Brings Intimacy to the Houston Theatre Scene

PIPELINE by Dominque Morisseau presented by FireCracker Productions

By: Oct. 18, 2021
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Review: Firecracker Production's PIPELINE Brings Intimacy to the Houston Theatre Scene

Immersion begins with the space. A company makes a statement as soon as the audience steps through the door. The space can be pretentious, epic, ominous, and so much more. In the case of the Firecracker Production's performance of Dominique Morisseau's Pipeline I would describe the space using the words "intimate" and "endearing." There's a special charm to a play being performed out of a warehouse. My favorite quirk is the sound of cars driving outside in the middle of the night. Who's to say the characters aren't hearing those same cars?

Once the show began, the benefits of the space became immediately apparent. It's all about the eyes. I could see every character's eyes so clearly. They are, after all, windows into the soul. The closeness added to the immersion of the piece. Much of the play focuses on teachers at an inner-city school. When the teachers retreat to the break room to reveal their true feelings about the students, I felt like I was a fly on the wall witnessing something that happens every day but goes unseen.

The story was exceptional. Essentially it's a response to those videos you might see online of two teenagers beating on each other in the classroom. If you've spent time on youtube, Twitter, or anywhere else you've caught a glimpse of these videos and the comments that go with them. People treat them as comedies. They make assumptions about the students and their parents. They condemn the teachers that "let the fights happen" and root for the combatants to receive swift punishment. Pipeline never shows violence. It never shows videos. There's no chanting from other students. The focus is on the effect of the violence on the parents, the teachers, and the students.

I felt for the plight of the central student, a teenager attending an upstate private school while his mother works in the inner city. If there's one thing I remember about the schools I attended, it's THAT FEELING. That threatening feeling, that you can't locate the origin of. If you were wiser you'd know the feeling was coming from inside you, but it doesn't seem that way. It seems to come from that other person. Every student feels it at one point or another. When fights broke out, the students' futures depended on second chances. The play provides the terrifying possibility that a young man might not get another chance. That the school, along with society, will mark him.

All of the acting was very well done. They wisely used Dominique Morisseau's script as the driving force that motivated their emotions. I never felt like an actor was trying to convince me of anything. They all came off as authentic people you might know in real life. I have to acknowledge the range of emotions lead actor Christian Adana (Nya) goes through as a mother scared of losing her son for more than one reason.

Pipeline will stick with me for a while. Its themes have become more and more relevant as the social media age becomes even more important in people's lives. What would once be a forgotten moment in time now gets stored on the internet forever. It's a modern take on an old problem. The issue of how to help the children who grow up in this type of environment hasn't been properly dealt with yet. Then again, how can you solve a problem few people truly understand?

Pipeline will have its final performances on Oct 22 and 23. Tickets are $20. Visit http://www.firecrackerproductions.org to purchase your ticket.

Photo by Pin Lim



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