Best Play: “Insurrection: Holding History” by Annex Theater

baltimoreannextheatre.org

Annex Theater deftly unleashed the comic rage powering playwright Robert O’Hara’s American satire, in which a gay African-American graduate student and his 200-year-old grandfather get “Wizard of Oz”-ed back to 1831 Virginia right before Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion. Premiering not long after Freddie Gray’s murder and the Uprising, “Insurrection” was a defibrillating jolt from a conventionally white DIY arts organization that dared to scream that recently woke white allies don’t mean shit as long as America’s institutions of social and cultural power remain sacrosanct. Kudos to director Kyle Jackson and his exceptional cast for so seamlessly bouncing from clenched-fist drama to side-splitting comedy, making this entire play an unforgettable reminder that sometimes, the best way to defang history’s seemingly monolithic immovability is to give it all the middle fingers—right before burning it to the ground.

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