Dallas Theater Center's Engrossing, Heretical Take on the Civil Rights Movement

The Good Negro bares roots of a movement; in Oak Cliff, a bumpy ride in Leonard's Car; Mummy dearest for tweens

Cindee Mayfield plays Josey Jeauxcarré, the writer-artist mourning the death of her second husband, Leonard. A visit by daughters Ruby Tuesday (Ashley Wilkerson) and Skylark (Octavia Y. Thomas) snap her into reality—after an hour of shouted recriminations and weepy pleading.

Director Terri Ferguson hasn't blocked the show well. The actresses don't fit naturally in and around scenic designer Chris Jenkins' multi-level set. There's so much furniture and so many props, the women are forced to upstage each other constantly and they awkwardly backpedal to get into position.

After a tune-up, Leonard's Car might be worth revisiting. This pretty new theater certainly is.

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Billy Eugene Jones and J. Bernard Calloway are civil rights leaders, and Steven Walters (right) is the FBI agent setting them up for scandal in The Good Negro.
Brandon Thibodeaux
Billy Eugene Jones and J. Bernard Calloway are civil rights leaders, and Steven Walters (right) is the FBI agent setting them up for scandal in The Good Negro.

Details

The Good Negro continues at Dallas Theater Center through November 9. Call 214-522-8499.

Leonard's Car continues at Bishop Arts Theater Center through October 25. Call 214-948-0716.

The Mummy's Claw continues at Dallas Children's Theater through November 1. Call 214-740-0051.

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After all this weighty drama, it is sheer heaven to laugh at the silliness of The Mummy's Claw, Dallas Children's Theater's Halloween offering for tweens. Like a 1930s RKO mystery-comedy, Mark Chandler's play gathers a dozen characters—a British archeologist (Douglass Burks), his wife (Rosemary Kolbo), terrified maid (wickedly funny Arianna Movassagh), bubble-headed niece Lucy (Shannon Rasmussen), opera diva (Patricia Ivey), football star (Nic McMinn) and Montana sheep herder (Evan Spreen, doing a darn good impression of character actor Sterling Holloway)—in a spooky villa outside Cairo. When an accidental incantation awakes the spirit of a 2,000-year-old mummy, the house sinks below the sands (a fantastic effect by designer Randel Wright's set), trapping the party in the tomb of an angry Egyptian god.

Aimed at kids, but full of sly jokes for the grown-ups (when a character says, "I'm rather familiar with ancient tongues," she's not talking Sanksrit), The Mummy's Claw is mirth on the Nile.

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