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Shallow 'Declining Significance of Race'

April 23, 1993|T. H.McCULLOH

Wendy Suffert, playwright-director of "The Declining Significance of Race" at the Hudson Backstage, has obviously seen more television than theater. Her play about two black cousins coming to grips with differing lifestyles and attitudes looks for all the world like a sitcom gone serious.

Bridgette (Shelley Robertson) brings her errant cousin Nicole (Victoria Cameron) home after Nicole has been fired for stealing from the Burger King where she worked. They've never liked each other. Bridgette wanted an education and a better life, which she has achieved, including a good corporate job. Nicole always felt Bridgette thought she was "better," and hated her for it.

Suffert's happy ending--which has Bridgette herself fired because of Nicole's destructive presence, and the two planning to buy a franchise--seems to give credence to Nicole's illiteracy and social malfunction. Class more than race is the fulcrum, and Suffert is content to let Bridgette joyfully return to Nicole's disenfranchised world, in a relationship that was never comfortable for either.

Suffert has something to say, but even strong performances don't camouflage the shallowness of her expression.

* "The Declining Significance of Race," Hudson Backstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Fridays-Saturdays, 10:30 p.m. Ends May 1. $15; (213) 660-8587. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

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