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BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World

BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World

THE NICETIES, written by Eleanor Burgess, is not just a play about the differences between black and white in America, but more about how generations across time see the world from such different viewpoints that often make it so difficult to communicate on equal footing. The West Coast premiere production at The Geffen Playhouse (literally in the shadow of UCLA), takes place in a professor's office at an elite East Coast university in 2016, a year in which the right to speak your mind to reveal the truth (as you see it) caused deep-rooted changes across society, especially through social media during that turbulent Presidential election year.

Directed with finesse by Kimberly Senior, THE NICETIES features Lisa Banes as the liberal, white professor Janine, and Jordan Boatman as the ambitious young black student Zoe, who become involved in a polite clash of perspectives that quickly explodes into an urgent and dangerous debate threatening to ruin both their lives. BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World We first meet the two opinionated and obviously brilliant women in Janine's somewhat cramped office, with its slanted ceiling (thanks to scenic designer Cameron Anderson) indicating her top floor status in the department. Posters of great political leaders from all sides, including George Washington, Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela, Emiliano Zapata, and female Suffragettes, adorn her office walls with books about other leaders and revolutionaries scattered around the place. Certainly, all appearances indicate Jeanine is the type of open-minded teacher every student would want to instruct them about American History. Right?

The two-act play opens with Zoe and Jeanine meeting to discuss a paper BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World the college junior is writing about the American Revolution. They're both liberal. They're both women. They're both brilliant. So, shouldn't this meeting go smoothly, especially since Zoe has sought out Janine specifically to offer edits to her work, ostensibly because she values her opinion and ability to make the past feel more human? But very quickly, discussions of grammar and Google turn to race and reputation when Janine shares that Zoe's arguments about history are unsound. And before they know it, they're in dangerous territory neither of them had foreseen - and facing stunning implications that can't be undone.

The intense play, which could easily degenerate into two talking heads if not for the BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World brilliant and nuanced performances of the two talented actors who have been touring the country performing THE NICETIES to rave reviews, starts out as expected with a seemingly respectful but often slightly bored student seeking out the advice of her well-respected professor. But as Zoe's deep-rooted resentment at the lack of honest, Black history being taught reveals itself and Janine's never-intended racial and social prejudices are brought to her attention, it becomes very apparent that the many elements of anyone's character, from race to the generation in which we are born to sexual orientation, color our ability to really grasp the truth about how others see their own world. BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World And, of course, that all viewpoints are valid, and neither right nor wrong, in the long run of history. After all, isn't it true that revolutionaries are really the ones who changed history?

No doubt this thought-provoking play will generate much discussion between audience members, as it did for me both at intermission, after the show and on the way home, about what happens now with the #MeToo generation freely speaking their minds, revealing their truth, often without so much as a thought to the consequences to all parties as a result of their speaking up. BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World Then again, in this time of hidden agendas being revealed across all generations and media, now is the perfect time for us to examine what it takes to stop speaking without thinking and start listening to what others are really saying before angry emotions destroy us all.

Kudos to Elisheba Ittoop's original music and sound design which featured a wonderfully revealing pre-show selection of 60s protest songs which took me back to the time during which I learned how important it was to speak up during the turbulent time when college students believed we could change the world. Certainly, we have, but as Zoe states, there is so much more to be done right now. And as Janine says, there will always be those who will listen and change their perspective given enough time. So where is the ever-evolving meeting place, out of which history is born? Such is the question posed to all of us in THE NICETIES.

BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World Performances take place through Sunday, May 12 (dark Mondays) in the Gil Cates Theater at The Geffen Playhouse, located at The Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Running time is run 90 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. BWW Review: THE NICETIES Reveals No One Can Really Grasp the Truth About How Others See the World Tickets run $30 - $120, available in person at The Geffen Playhouse box office, by phone at (310) 208-5454 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org. Rush tickets for each day's performance are made available to the general public 30 minutes before showtime at the box office. $35 General / $10 Student

Photos by T. Charles Erickson



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