Grade A+ - 97%
Green Book Wine Club Train Trip with KC Melting Pot at Just Off Broadway Theater
Ain’t nothin’ better than a Black audience yessin’ in the dark, rollin’ upon hallelujahs and lovin’ on a reflection of themselves in the shape of a Black play.
Green Book Wine Club Train Trip, produced now through March 2, with KC Melting Pot at Just Off Broadway Theater, is a comedic drama in Two Acts written by Michelle Tyrene Johnson and directed by Teresa Leggard.
It is a sharp, stirring occasion to luxuriate in an energetic Black story and in the splendor of the Black visage.
It’s today. To accompany her on a wine-sipping train escapade, Marie (Khrystal Coppage) has gathered a coven of girlfriends – flamboyant sista-girl Alicia (Lanette King), level-headed attorney Saige (Jabrelle Herbin), bored-with-married-life Toni (Karis Harrington), and wise outsider Lynn (Cecilia Belser-Patton).
She strives for a magical, best adventure that can transform her from a rigid know-it-all to a lax cool chick that outshines her naturally hip brother and grandmother. Marie clings to a family heirloom, the Green Book, a manual that, during Jim Crow, mapped Black-owned businesses, including eateries and motels to help Black travelers safely find accommodation.
After debarking from the train at a rest stop, Marie finds herself stuck in yesteryear. Location: train depot. Time: good ole 1940’s. She is armed with nothing but her desires to compete for familial affections by becoming the best and that Green Book.
Bertha (Belser-Patton) rescues Marie and offers shelter in a boarding house. Marie then meets Henry (Harrington), Bertha’s partner in running the boarding house and two of their tenants, Cotton Blue (King) and Lucy (Herbin). They all live together as a clan crafting a softer experience in the brutal past. They offer a bit of what they have to the lost and desperate Marie.
Green Book Wine Club Train Trip is a great opportunity to go out with best friends, cousins, sisters and soul mates. At times, GBWCTT splits the sides, at others it warms the heart. Family is explored as a unit, as kinfolk, and as ancestors, molding the theme around concepts of legacy and inheritance.
Khrystal Coppage as Marie anchors the story in a feisty innocence that allows the narrative to unfold into self-discovery and humility. Her petite stature, tight double-french braids, penny loafers, oversized glasses and skillful delivery make the character’s inexperience and insecurities-disguised-as-arrogance palatable and even a bit adorable.
Her foil is the saucy, sashaying Lucy. Jabrelle Herbin brings gravity and expressiveness to a ballsy broad. Herbin’s Lucy and Saige are so distinct they seem played by two different actresses.
These two actors are the principle support for this powerhouse ensemble responsible for plot surprises, action, a gamut of emotions, making the audience fall in love and responsible for each other.
GBWCTT also successfully juxtaposes the cruelties deployed by the race-driven systemic divides of previous generations to the socio-economic mercilessness arising from the anti-Blackness of today.
What would bring this production closer to perfection is the world passing by outside the train window. The lighting design is so dark. The benefit should be a clear view of the beautiful, natural world surrounding the women as they imbibe, grow closer, and realize that life is changing… just like that passing world.
Green Book Wine Club Train Trip is the third show in the KC Melting Pot four show season. Watch for the final installment of the 2018-2019 season, Funnyhouse of a Negro.