The Shipment – Young Jean Lee

You may have sensed from reading this blog that I resist being negative. I blame most pieces I don’t like on my own biases and (try to) make it clear that it’s just my boring old opinion that x work is ‘bad.’ I’m going to do the same thing here and confess all that was built up to bring me to this conclusion, but I really didn’t like this play.

The play has two parts but doesn’t require an intermission. The structure of the first part is a lot like The Coloured Museum (Wolfe). The second part features the actors in stereotypically “white” roles in a stupid, bad, mean, empty [Insert name of any all white sitcom]-satirizing plot.

This play felt the most academic to me. Lee’s author’s note made the writing process sound very collaborative, but the result for me has the sterility of a grad school final project. I thought there was nothing new in the Coloured Museum-ish half and as my adjectives above suggest, the mean, vapid satire of the second half didn’t do it for me either. I wouldn’t put this in a season. Perfectly good for reading and talking about (anything that makes you uncomfortable usually is), but I would not go to see this and I would not want to make others believe that they should see it. Finally, I have found a way to just read when it comes to plays. I try not to judge (until I’m finished) and just let the language and action of the play suck me in. In this collection, this was the third play that was well outside my comfort zone so I will confess I was primed not to like it. So here are my platitudes: perhaps it just did not get to cook enough. I know there’s a niche for this work. Probably, I just don’t get it. To each their own.

Cast: 7 6M 1F. Actors should have movement and singing ability. There are (multi-) doubling tracks identified in the script. You could probably mess with the gender ratios (seek author’s permission). Runtime: 54 pp. 65-70 minutes? Themes: the legacy and expectation of racial stereotypes.

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3 thoughts on “The Shipment – Young Jean Lee

    1. Oh anotherwisemonkey, you ask a dangerous question! I will only indict already-famous playwrights by name and title (b/c my little opinion will mean nothing to their rep).

      Some of my barrel scrapers are:

      Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. It won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2011 Pulitizer Prize for Drama and I COULD NOT EVEN SIT THROUGH THE FIRST ACT!!! Since then, I have read it all the way through, and it was still just disgustingly bad to me. Tired tropes, useless dialogue, no real plot. I think it was supposed to be satire, but I just didn’t get it.

      I have a really unnatural loathing for the musical Carousel (Rodgers & Hammerstein).

      And I read a play by an amateur this year that was just lifeless. The “tensions” were utterly predictable, the language was boring, the script had no drive, and the ending was pat. A very limp waste of much time and many pages.

      How ’bout you? Any scripts you love to hate?

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