America is obsessed with racism. That statement is something you'll hear stated in Jackie Sibblies Drury's Pulitzer Prize winning play Fairview. While the negative impact of racism is something most white people don't have to personally deal with, Drury focuses her play in a specific way to speak directly to the white people in the audience to ask them questions about how their actions possibly influence the negative treatment of Black people. Stray Cat Theatre presents the local premiere in a fairly solid production of this interesting but somewhat messy and overstuffed play. Because of that, you may walk out thinking that Fairview isn't a well-written play or one where all of the ideas Drury throws out don't exactly stick, but it's also a play you will most likely be thinking about, discussing, and debating about for days after seeing it. I know I am.
Without giving too much away, Fairview focuses on a Black family, one that resembles a typical dysfunctional family on TV sitcoms, whose lives are impacted by a group of white people. Exactly how the Caucasians insert themselves and overshadow the story the African American family is trying to tell I won't say. However, I will say that it illuminates and, especially if you're white, will most likely open your eyes to how minorities, in this case members of the Black community, are treated and basically silenced by whites in ways that very few other plays and films that tackle racism have ever done. It also has an ending that may make you feel uncomfortable or make you feel like you're being interrogated, but it also can be cathartic and eye opening.
Fairview is structured in three distinct sections, which are all set in the living room of the Frazier family. It starts with a story about a family we are familiar with seeing and then morphs into a conversation about racism among a group of white people. It then breaks the whole thing up and makes the audience observers, and in some way participants, and it forces us to pick up the pieces to see our own reflection in what's left behind in the aftermath.
Fairview is a thought-provoking drama about privilege, fairness, responsibility and representation. There is also much uncertainty in the ending that could shock or confuse but also possibly stimulate you. It also asks some pertinent questions that will make you think. Who decides which stories are told and who decides who gets to listen and watch them? Who should be the one to write about them? Since I'm white, should I even be writing this review of a play by a Black playwright about racism? Will those of us in the majority make space for those who aren't, and, to dissect the title, will we ever truly have a view that is fair and equal to everyone?