The Firestorm at Kitchen Dog Theater Is a Four-Alarm Flop

Kitchen Dog Theater’s final play in its longtime home at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary is The Firestorm. What a title for a damp squib of drama by Meridith Friedman, getting an undeserved “rolling premiere” starting at KDT and moving on to other theaters elsewhere.
Directed by Tina Parker, The Firestorm feels like it fell off the slush pile of spec scripts for Scandal. A young white candidate for Ohio governor, Patrick (Cameron Cobb), is married to a black Ivy League-educated lawyer, Gaby (Kenneisha Thompson). “Having a black wife is like the equivalent of having 10 black friends,” he says with maximum smugness.

Gaby rightly bristles at attempts by Patrick’s white campaign image-maker, Leslie (Janielle Kastner, basically doing Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids), to soften her personality to boost her husband’s “everyman” status to voters. Wear colorful scarves, she’s told. Act like Michelle Obama.

When a nasty incident from Patrick’s frat-boy past comes back to haunt him — he spray-painted a racist slur on a dorm door — the campaign and the marriage go into freefall. Gaby even accuses Patrick of marrying her knowing that 20 years in the future the shameful prank would be exposed and her presence would defuse the furor.

Friedman’s writing is dull and the entire premise ridiculous. Performance-wise, they do what they can with the clunky dialogue. The Firestorm is a four-alarm flop.

The Firestorm continues through June 27 at Kitchen Dog Theater, McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets, $15-$25, 214-953-1055 or kitchendogtheater.org. Pay-what-you-can for first 25 patrons June 10 and June 24

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