Aired on KSDS-FM on 6/23/17
RUN DATES: 6/10/17 – 6/25/17
VENUE: Ira Aldridge Repertory Players
A young black man has taken up residence on a park bench in the midst of the projects. He hunkers down in a hooded parka, though it’s the height of summer. Crates and bags of his accumulated stuff surround him.
Ivy, a recent high school graduate, passes him every day. He piques her curiosity and impetuous nature. She starts talking to him, though she’s still reeling about another guy on the street who was roughed up by the cops and hit with a taser. He’s still in a coma.
The homeless person everyone calls Pigeon Man knows all this – and a lot more – about the street, the projects, the foster care system… and Ivy. He has moments of seeming madness and moments of poetic lucidity.
Ivy’s possessive boyfriend, several years older and in a stable job as a car mechanic, doesn’t want her having anything to do with this guy. She can’t help or save him. But she persists, and he finally opens up, telling her his name, Klass, and a bit of his dreadful history.
Between her domineering mother, her controlling boyfriend, and the confines of her living conditions, Ivy feels constrained and constricted. She desperately wants to escape, to go to college, to be unfettered, to see the sky.
Over 36 short scenes in 80 minutes, we learn a good deal about the projects and the relationship between the residents and the police. “Blacktop Sky,” Christina Anderson’s 2010 drama, is about poverty and opportunity, about looking versus seeing, about coming of age and taking responsibility for your own life.
Calvin Manson, founder of the 33-year old Ira Aldridge Repertory Players, directs the intense and unsettling drama, with assistance from local actor Vimel Sephus.
The 3-person cast is deeply committed and thoroughly credible. They draw us into their hothouse world, and leave us with uncertainty about just how – and if – these dramatic events will resolve. A fitting ending, since there’s no end in sight for the privation-police dynamic.
This is a searing and unnerving play, and a forceful, discomforting production.
©2017 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews