April 29, 2009

Review of Red Ink

Mixed Blood’s 'Red Ink' offers moody mixed bag by Native American playwrights

Some of the 10 plays are good while others aren't short enough

By Quinton Skinner
Writer Yvette Nolan contributes a couple of the stronger snippets, both featuring Anderson, who lends a mature gravity to a night that often comes across with more energy than cohesion. In the first, he's portaging a canoe through suburbia past a startled homeowner, noting that it's his backyard, too. In the second, Anderson is in the backseat of a police car, subject to the whims of an angry cop (Ernest Briggs), while explaining his status as a City Hall insider by dint of his position as a Native representative in a sea of white faces.

From here the mood shifts at a whiplash pace, and you'll either give yourself over to the experience or feel as though you're witnessing something half-baked. (The show, directed by Sarah Rasmussen, seems to be working out the question for itself. It seeks small truths in a sprawling format and tries for mood over precision, which might well be the smart gambit).

Arigon Starr, also an ensemble performer, pens a riff on American Idol, in which George Keller emotes through a warbling "Cry for My Reservation," leading to a controversy over blood purity. (That theme is also explored earlier in a piece by Drew Hayden Taylor, in which a single woman straddles the paradox that she will only bear children with pure Native men while commenting that pure-bred dogs are nothing but trouble). Starr later also contributes a parody of Native casino culture that only just gets off the ground.
Comment:  I guess the show is called Red Ink because Natives wrote all the pieces. Okay, but that's not much of a unifying theme.

Moreover, there's a well-known collegiate Native magazine called Red Ink. Mixed Blood gets no points for co-opting its name.

For more on the subject, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.

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