April 26, 2014
Anger curls under James Baldwin’s emotional views of the black condition in white America. Master/slave never falls far back in the mind—it’s there to remind him of the loss of freedom since Africans Americans first stepped on this land.
Directed by Patricia McGregor in a straightforward, clean manner, Baldwin’s “Nothing Personal” written in 1964 is set inside a dreary apartment room that incorporates projected images depicting urban isolation by photographer, Richard Avedon.
Roused from a restless sleep, Jimmy (Coleman Domingo) sits on the side of slim cot, and gives voice to insistent nightmares and dreams.
Furnished with a typewriter, chair, small TV and clothes rack, the spare room allows thoughts to bounce from one wall to the next. He revisits years of submission, then unites that thought with a new day of rebellion.
At one point, Baldwin muses on the founding of America and suggests everyone might have been better off if the Plymouth Rock landed on the Pilgrims instead of vice versa. And despite this bleak view of a hypocritical society, love and kindness still make a life worth living.
A commanding actor, Domingo draws from the deep well of pain born of a country’s rise on the shoulders of human bondage. Resolute but understated, Domingo relishes Baldwin’s inherently timeless, poetic words--words that haunt us to this day.
New York Live Arts is celebrating James Baldwin’s life and career as part of their second annual Live Ideas festival, James Baldwin, This Time!—through a series of dynamic readings, performances and conversations in partnership with Columbia University and Harlem Stage.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis