A visit to a a family-style fusion restaurant leaves the narrator of this one-woman show obsessed with the question of whether it is possible to have a “neutral” narrative in America? “Neutral” in this context means free from any experience filtered through the lens of race or gender. She searches for the answer to this question for an indeterminate amount of time looking for one person who can claim to have a neutral life.
I don’t think I’m quite spoiling anything by saying that she finds none. No one can be freed of their circumstances, nor do we perhaps want them to be. Anyone with a “neutral” narrative is really just an empty shell of a person with no stake in their actions, waiting to be filled by outer forces, whether it be an over-demanding job, a love interest, or hey, an obsession with whether America has a “neutral” history. By the end of the show, we realize that our narrator is completely devoid of any self. While she is represented in this production by a young, black, professional, black woman (an excellent April Matthis), she could really be anyone. There is no mention of her race or gender, no reference to where she comes from or what defines her, not even her name. The monologue could just as easily been played by a white middle aged male. Her emptiness functions as the bare stage for our discussion on race and gender.
Overall, the show brings great insight into the function of race and gender in contemporary America. Some of the writing felt a little misguided, like the few opening spewing cliches about “change” and what a fickle force of nature it is– I don’t see “change” as a dominant theme of the play, nor something marginally explored. The ending, however, is jarring, demanding the audience to assess to what extent we produce assumptions of “neutrality” in our lives.
Other UTR reviews: C’est Du Chinois and 2 Dimensional Life of Her.