INVISIBLE GIRL by Syreeta Briggs is a tough piece to watch. Not because it’s bad, mind you, but because the subject matter is raw, aggressive, and sad. Briggs introduces the piece, reading from her phone, and indicates that this piece is reflective of the black female experience – or more specifically her experience. I hope that it’s not the entirety of it; there’s no expression of joy or pride or hope . . . and the piece – and the audience could use a dose or two of that.
Again, this is not an indictment of the piece as artistic expression. When something is this personal to an artist, it’s impossible to critique on those merits. Nor do I have any right to. (Contrast that with the show I’ll see tonight called WHITE PRIVILEGE.) But from an audience member’s perspective, it’s easier to review.
There are some interesting moments throughout the show. It lacks much in the way of linear structure and instead relies on abstract vignettes to tell the story of “Sarah,” an African American female in a black leotard. She’s undeniably average. (Alisha Robinson, the actress, is beautiful and has stage presence to spare.) We also quickly meet “Kamali,” played by Isaiah Reaves who is an enigma to us all. Both actors do a fine job conveying emotion even when the story gets lost in the overly-artsy dialogue. At times, the script is reminiscent of Shakespeare meets Waiting for Godot meets Saturday Night Live. The latter happens in a shocking sketch about a slave-themed game show and again in an overly dramatized scene about step-family racism.
Xander Wells turns in an understated performance as “Cyrus,” anchoring his too-short scene with empathy. The rest of the Ensemble support the playwright’s scenes of emotional, angry, and sad torment. Geoffery Hill is especially interesting to watch both as “Ray” and “Preacha.”
Leaving the Memorial Hall Ballroom, I wasn’t sure what to think. Was I supposed to feel guilty or angry or sad? I questioned did this play do enough to move me from a place of indifference into some sort of social action? Or is this just a cathartic exercise for those involved?
The play certainly has merit. Briggs has oodles of talent and tons of potential. With a mature directoral hand to guide it towards something world-changing, INVISIBLE GIRL could shake us to the core.