×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Slide Glide the Slippery Slope

Author Kia Corthron's intention to make a serious statement about the cloning issue is announced at the beginning of "Slide Glide the Slippery Slope," with a strong opening image of famous cloned sheep Dolly, hanging from the ceiling. Corthron has the ability to create tense, unnerving scenes, but her play slides and glides off course.

With:
Sear - Daniel Bryant Dell - Juanita Jennings Retta - Veralyn Jones Elo - June A. Lomena Rosie - Khanya Mkhize Erm - Bahni Turpin

Author Kia Corthron’s intention to make a serious statement about the cloning issue is announced at the beginning of “Slide Glide the Slippery Slope,” with a strong opening image of famous cloned sheep Dolly, hanging from the ceiling. Corthron has a flair for language and the ability to create tense, unnerving scenes, but her play, receiving its West Coast premiere at the Taper, Too, slides and glides off course in a series of tumultuous dramatic detours. Each confrontation is a self-contained playlet and revolutionary, original ideas are given short shrift and replaced by traditional family conflict.

Pivotal character Erm (Bahni Turpin) is a farmer with a consuming interest in biogenetics and cloning. Her 36-year-old identical twin Elo (June A. Lomena), whom she hasn’t seen since early childhood, arrives unannounced and demands resumption of their relationship.

Erm resists angrily, unwilling to be reminded of the alcoholic mother who kept Elo and gave up Erm to another woman’s care. Before long, Erm’s adopted sister Retta (Veralyn Jones) inserts herself into the mix, and it becomes clear that all three women are bound by traumas: Elo grieves for her 10-year-old daughter Rosie, killed in a car accident; Erm had a son with Down syndrome; and Retta’s young boy is the key to a surprising climactic secret.

It takes too long for Erm and Elo to reminisce and establish communication, and the central controversy — whether Elo should clone her lost Rosie, and Erm should duplicate son Sear (Daniel Bryant) with the hope of genetically eliminating his Down handicaps — feels peripheral to the action.

Thematic unity is temporarily maintained in a clash between Elo and Rosie, followed by Erm’s encounter with son Sear. But the intriguing dramatic possibilities presented in these scenes are then discarded when we learn that these moments were fantasies, and suddenly moving center stage is a long sequence involving Elo, Erm and their mother Dell (Juanita Jennings).

This scene about unloved girls confronting a neglectful parent is involving, due to a superb portrayal by Jennings, but its excessive length unbalances the play. Corthron’s sentimental, preachy resolution turns her story into a tidy tract about sisterly bonding that hands us that old pop bromide: Whatever the problems, love is the answer.

Though diffuse at its core, “Slide Glide” is tightly framed around the edges, with outstanding sound by John Zalewski, who contributes a jarring earthquake, sputtering car sounds in heavy rain and the plaintive bleating of sheep. Rand Ryan’s lighting effectively spotlights the ever-present Dolly and forcefully embellishes the stormy shifting of moods.

Director Valerie Curtis-Newton falters in setting up cohesive scene transitions but draws potent portrayals from her cast. Turpin remains believable and sympathetic even when struggling to avoid emotional connections. Lomena’s Elo, while failing to enunciate at crucial moments, successfully conveys fear, hysteria and lost dreams.

Khanya Mkhize’s nightmarish Rosie gets under the skin, and Bryant delivers a bold and startling emulation of a mentally challenged adolescent.

Slide Glide the Slippery Slope

Taper, Too at the Ivy Substation; 99 seats; $20 top

Production: A Center Theater Group/Music Center of Los Angeles presentation of a play in two acts by Kia Corthron. Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton.

Creative: Sets, Rachel Hauck; costumes, Joyce Kim Lee; lighting, Rand Ryan; sound, John Zalewski; production stage manager, Paula Donnelly. Opened and reviewed June 5, 2003; runs through June 22. Running time: 2 HOURS, 5 MIN.

Cast: Sear - Daniel Bryant Dell - Juanita Jennings Retta - Veralyn Jones Elo - June A. Lomena Rosie - Khanya Mkhize Erm - Bahni Turpin

More Legit

  • By the Way Meet Vera Stark

    Off Broadway Review: 'By the Way, Meet Vera Stark' by Lynn Nottage

    After writing two harrowing Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, “Sweat” and “Ruined,” Lynn Nottage is entitled to have a little fun. But while this revival of her new play, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” walks and talks like a screwball comedy, it has a real brain in its head. Before we get too serious, let’s meet [...]

  • Merrily We Roll AlongRoundabout Theatre CompanyMERRILY

    Off Broadway Review: 'Merrily We Roll Along'

    Like the optimistic youths at the end — or is it the beginning? — of “Merrily We Roll Along,” creatives keep going back to this problematic Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical, re-imagining the show in the hope that the end results will be different this time around. They’re not. But disappointments are often off-set by new [...]

  • My Fair Lady Laura Benanti

    Listen: Laura Benanti on 'My Fair Lady' and the Secret to Her Melania Trump Impersonation

    Laura Benanti is now playing her dream role on Broadway. At the same time, the Tony winner (“Gypsy”) is also playing her toughest part ever. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “It’s the most demanding part I think I’ll probably play,” said Benanti, now appearing as Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center Theater’s well-received revival of [...]

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    'Hamilton' Panic Over Mistaken Reports of Gunfire Injures Three in San Francisco

    Three people were injured after mistaken reports of an active shooter at a San Francisco production of “Hamilton” caused attendees to flee the theater. CNN reported that a woman experienced a medical emergency — later determined to be a heart attack — during a scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play wherein Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on [...]

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content