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Pace, Production Hamper 'Trilogy'

April 10, 1998|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

"A Black Trilogy," three one-acts presented by the Unity Players Ensemble at the Inglewood Playhouse, is limited in scope despite moments of clarity and professionalism. Sluggish pacing is a persistent problem.

The opener, Pat Gabridge's "The Prisoner of St. Pierre," directed by Spencer Scott, is based on the devastating volcanic eruption on Martinique in 1902. Trapped in a dungeon below the city, one of the sole survivors of the cataclysm experiences premonitory hallucinations as he waits for rescue. While historically fascinating, the piece, which veers from the overly dramatic to the cheaply comic, needs a major overhaul in tone.

"Rules of Color," by Ronnie Robinson, also directed by Scott, is an amusing "what if?" comedy, set in the Deep South in the early '50s, which playfully parodies cultural and racial stereotypes. Michael Massengale and Robinson are particularly entertaining as two black men dealing with their newfound prerogatives in a community gone miraculously "colorblind."

The final offering, Erica Broussard's "Role of a Lifetime," directed by Yvette Culver, heats up by the end, thanks to Regina Williams' bitterly funny curtain speech about the compromises African American women make in corporate America. However, knee-jerk changes in setting, each followed by a lengthy blackout, seem amateurish and interruptive.

*

* "A Black Trilogy," Inglewood Playhouse in Edward Vincent Park, 740 Warren Ave., Inglewood. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends April 19. $10. (213) 860-3208. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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