Review: “The Robert E. Lee Statue” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Featured: Scott Widener and Janelle Clayton. Photo by David Anthony - Werdsofartphotography

Featured: Scott Widener and Janelle Clayton. Photo by David Anthony - Werdsofartphotography

  • Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City

Written by Liz Fein, the short play “The Robert E. Lee Statue” tackles the topic of whether or not we should keep the monuments of confederate soldiers, given what they represent, or tear them down. Following a Trump supporter and a young African-American girl, and their heated argument over what should be done with the statue, this play takes a contempory approach to an issue that we have been struggling with for a long time: How do we remember tragedies and what monuments honor those tragedies and which ones disregard or celebrate them?

The ideas were interesting and the choice to have the statue himself speak, yet give no real answer was a nice touch. This seemed to highlight how ineffective information has become. Each character taking what the statue said and trying to adapt it to work for their own side. I also found it interesting that the Trump supporter never said “I think…” or “My opinion is…” it was always “President Trump said…”, this really struck me because of how it communicated the dangers of not questioning our leaders and what happens when we deify them. This play had a lot of information that was being delivered and director, Charon Scerra handled the presentation of the information very well. I didn’t feel spoon fed facts, which could have so easily been the case.

That being said, the characters did very much feel like caricatures of this particular situation. I would have liked to have seen them be either a little more realistic or even more exaggerated. As it stands, they were in this middle place that just felt a little over simplified. The girl also arrived onto the scene already angry, which made her hard to sympathize with throughout. “The Robert E. Lee Statue” is a part of a larger work, and I would encourage that larger work to let this scene develop slower. Take time for the situation to build and get to the physical confrontation in a more organic way. Don’t be afraid to let these characters hear each other a little, and then totally tear each other down.

“The Robert E. Lee Statue” was an interesting idea that I look forward to seeing expanded on and how these characters evolve.

 

“The Robert E. Lee Statue” was presented by  the Nuyorican Poets Café at their short play and monologue festival at 236 East 3rd St. in Manhattan. It was written by Liz Fein and directed by Charon Scerra.

It featured” Janelle Clayton, Scott Widener, and Eric Andrews.