Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: PIPELINE Tackles Education and Race at Indiana Repertory Theatre

Review: PIPELINE Tackles Education and Race at Indiana Repertory Theatre

Education and race: there aren't too many issues that are more divisive in our country at the moment. The Indiana Repertory Theatre's current Upperstage production, Pipeline, tackles them both. The 90 minute play keeps a frantic pace as Nya, a public school teacher, finds out her teenage son has gotten into a fight at his private school.
The show, written by Detroit-native Dominique Morisseau, brings to the stage the debate of public vs. private education and the role race plays in that conversation. In addition to being a playwright, Morisseau was a teacher for years and that experience comes through in her writing. She writes about the struggle from the point of view of both parent and teacher with equal weight.
One of the major strengths of the show is the character of Omari, played with compelling vulnerability by Cole Taylor. In the hands of a less talented playwright he could easily have been a caricature of an angry young black man. Instead he is complex, emotional, confused, angry, loving, innocent, frustrated, and so many other things. In other words, he feels real. His depth gives the audience a window into his world.
The set works as a teacher's lounge, classroom, living room, hospital, and dorm room. It uses multimedia screens to project security cameras, texts, and videos as well as lines of Gwendolyn Brooks' poetry. Director Raelle Myrick-Hodges keeps the intensity of the play intact for the whole show by zoning in on Nya's escalating anxiety. Nya (Aimé Donna Keely) is in the midst of the story. It's her reactions that we follow as her life intersects with her ex-husband, her son's girlfriend, her coworkers, her students and her son. Her stress level rises and her parental fear is palpable. The production holds no punches and doesn't shy away from hard issues. It does what the best type of theatre should always do, makes the audience look at the world from someone else's viewpoint and opens up the door for a new conversation.

Don't Miss the Show

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "Pipeline" runs until Nov. 11 on IRT's Upperstage. It includes strong adult language and some adult situations. It is 1 hour 30 minutes, with no intermission. To purchase tickets or find performance times, call (317) 635-5252 or order online at

Photos Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre

From This Author - Melissa Hall

Melissa Hall has been reviewing live theater since 2006. She lives in Indianapolis and enjoys the city's thriving local arts scene. She is a member of the American Theatre Critics... (read more about this author)

BWW Review: MARY POPPINS Delights Families at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
May 24, 2022

Mary Poppins, the classic story of a practically-perfect nanny who comes to care for the neglected Banks children is on stage now at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. It’s a perfect show for families with young kids to enjoy. Statues come to life and kites are flown as the characters learn the timeless lesson of remembering what’s truly important in life.

BWW Review: DEAR EVAN HANSEN at Murat Theatre
April 27, 2022

High school is a different world from what many of us experienced growing up. Now, social media is an integral part of life and that fact is evident from the scrolling feeds presented on the hanging panels of the Dear Evan Hansen set. The story of a community coping with the suicide of a teenage boy took Broadway by storm when it premiered in 2016. It helped people feel seen and connected in a time when suicide and hopelessness run rampant in our society.

BWW Review: THE PAPER DREAMS OF HARRY CHIN at Indiana Repertory Theatre
April 24, 2022

Two years ago this play, The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin, was deep in rehearsals at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. It was set to open in March 2020… and then the world shut down. Miraculously, the entire original cast has returned for this production.

BWW Review: KINKY BOOTS at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
March 1, 2022

If the name didn’t give it away, this is not your average Beef & Boards production. The Broadway hit roars onto the stage with drag queens in stiletto heels and a whole lot of sass. Based on a true story, the musical’s message of accepting people for who they are is more timely than ever.

BWW Review: FAHRENHEIT 451 at Indiana Repertory Theatre
February 9, 2022

The Indianapolis Repertory Theatre is heating up these cold snowy days with a sci-fi classic. Fahrenheit 451 is on stage until Feb. 20 on the OneAmerica MainStage. One would hope that this play would become irrelevant in our world, but unfortunately, it’s more important than ever.