Gentlemen Prefer Racists

Something’s troubling about the current off-Broadway production of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman. Until tonight I couldn’t put my finger on it. Last week’s reviews at nytheatre.com and in The New York Observer describe the play as I remember it, and the production photos show a cast with the right attitude. So what’s wrong?

Tomorrow’s Village Voice tells us:

Never has “getting a bite of the apple” proved to be as dangerous as it is in Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman … where a flirtation between a black man, Clay (Dulé Hill), and a curvaceous blonde, Lula (Jennifer Mudge), takes on monumental proportions.

A blonde! That’s the problem with this production! Baraka’s script differs significantly:

Lula is a tall, slender, beautiful woman with long red hair hanging straight down her back, wearing only loud lipstick in somebody’s good taste. She is eating an apple, very daintily.

What does this mean? Jennifer Mudge, however qualified, is horribly miscast! And director Bill Duke is getting involved in some heavy-handed reinterpretation.

The moral of this story? Redheads, redheads, redheads.

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