Appropriate Nov. 4–Dec. 1 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ bitter comedy Appropriate is not the most confrontational piece the D.C.-bred playwright—who is not yet 30—has written on the subject of race. That distinction will probably forever belong to Neighbors, the 2010 provocation that made its black cast members wear blackface and pantomime racial caricatures right out of Birth of a Nation. Appropriate takes a necessarily subtler route, tracing a fractious white family’s return to the crumbling Arkansas home of their recently deceased father, and the fallout when they discover some very troubling keepsakes among his personal effects. Jacobs-Jenkins, a black playwright writing for an all-white cast, gives even his most loathsome characters fully developed emotional arcs. You understand how they came to be the way they are, which is why Appropriate, which was featured last spring at the Humana Festival for New American Plays, resonates even when it threatens, in its second half, to curdle into farce.

PLUS

State of the Arts: 2013 Fall Arts Guide

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