Monroe (Akeem Davis) is a black senior in high school with a girlfriend, Phrasie (Taysha Canales), who has won a scholarship to college. After a nighttime romantic picnic, Monroe is happily walking home, taking a route by the whites-only hospital. Clem is on guard duty, although, since he has nothing to do, he is practicing slick moves with his revolver. When Monroe startles him, he accidentally shoots the youth. Monroe’s mother (Cathy Simpson), who has been through it all, grieves. Phrasie is outraged, angry, wants revenge, wants to change the world. The sheriff (Keith Conallen) attempts to defuse a combustible situation.
Both Phrasie and Kitty will discover they are pregnant. The future incarnate.
Clem’s reaction to the shooting is growing paranoia. He barricades himself and Kitty in the house for months as his mind — and the kitchen — deteriorate. No wonder the stage is hung with Spanish moss, a visible manifestation of the play’s central parable of the Civil War: two boys locked together in fear, squeezed the life out of each other; after they died, their hair turned to the trailing moss, and floated all over the South.
The kitchen — in the excellent set by Caitlin Lanoff a plastic-and-linoleum sort of place — is shared by the white characters and the black characters; as one set enters the other exits, but unhurriedly, significantly inhabiting the room simultaneously for a minute, although always unaware of each other’s presence. The stuff that each side acquires — books, coupons, cardboard cartons, Coke bottles, teddy bears — remains and accumulates as history piles up.
Any talk about relevance to recent news seems to me to distort both the current event and the play, so it is perhaps best to take Slip/Shot on its own merits, which are many.
Slip/Shot Presented by Flashpoint Theatre at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom. Through May 5. Tickets $15-$22. Information: www.flashpointtheatre.org