New Century Theatre, Theatre 14 at Smith College. Directed by Maggie Miller
The play invites comparison with Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, somewhat to the advantage of the latter. But this is an interesting play by Lynn Nottage, all the same, told from the perspective of a teenage black girl, Ernestine Crump, who moves from the South with her family to Brooklyn in 1950 and encounters the kinds of problems one encounters in a big northern city if one is poor, and black. Into their midst, two characters whose great differences introduce much complexity into the lives of the family: Lily Ann Green, sister of Ernestine’s dead mother, who says she is a linguist and sociologist but is her own worst enemy, even as she offers insights into the social problems of blacks; and Gerte Schulte, whom the father meets in a subway station and brings home as his wife — a strain on credulity until an explanation is forthcoming later in the play. Ernestine was played by a fine, gifted young actress not yet in possession of her Equity card, but thoroughly deserving of one: Nikiya Mathis, her name.