Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Second City: Black Side of the Moon
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's recent review of Straight White Men

Photo by Teresa Castracane
To understand the importance of The Second City selecting Washington, DC, as the site of its first completely African-American ensemble performance, know that African Americans make up 46 percent of the city's population, and almost 94 percent of DC's voters supported Hillary Clinton for president. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, a longtime partner of the famed Chicago company, brings the perspectives of six talented performers to a multicultural audience by hosting Black Side of the Moon.

While The Second City is most famous for sketch comedy and improvisation, Black Side of the Moon also integrates standup comedy, music, and just a bit of audience participation, all drawn from the performers' experiences. The issues addressed are up to the minute and no doubt will undergo some updates during the run.

Director (and ringmaster) Billy Bungeroth kicks off the action with a voiceover recasting of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech that makes reference to the nightmarish aspects of modern culture for Americans of color. The underlying theme is "We are not a monolith," expressed by the diversely talented Angela Alise, Sonia Denis, Dave Helem, Torian Miller, Felonious Munk, and Dewayne Perkins.

Among the explicitly political bits, President Obama (Munk) says of the atmosphere following the presidential election, "I'm not a Kenyan Muslim, but it's starting to look real appealing," and refers to the president-elect as a "Cheeto-colored demon." Another skit turns "A Christmas Carol" inside out as the ghost of "Jacob Bob Marley" introduces a white audience member to the realities of African-American life, while a third shows how black people can make white guilt work to their advantage in a job interview.

If all that sounds too preachy, know that there are also scenes involving a black gay couple at their high school reunions, an upwardly mobile couple meeting their old-guard neighbors, and people who repeatedly watch Precious so their own lives won't seem so depressing. Also, Helem talks about his previous experiences as a high school math teacher and Denis takes on male activists who don't like to hear a woman's opinions.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
The Second City: Black Side of the Moon
November 12th, 2016 - January 1st, 2017
Ensemble: Angela Alise, Sonia Denis, Dave Helem, Torian Miller, Felonious Munk, Dewayne Perkins
Directed by Billy Bungeroth
641 D St. N.W., Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-393-3939 or

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