Theater For The New City
Producers BETH O’NEIL and STEPHEN HANSEN
THE CLAIMING RACE
By ROBERT GLAUDINI
Theater for the New City (www.theaterforthenewcity.net), 155 First Avenue, NYC, September 16 through October 17, 2004
Directed by BRIAN ROFF
Scenic Design KELLY HANSON
Costume Design MIMI O’DONNELL
Lighting Design JOSH EPSTEIN
Sound Design BROOKS WILLIAMS
Production Stage Manager ROBYN HENRY
Press KLASFELD PUBLICITY
Gerry Becker – Millock
Lola Glaudini – Deni
Chris McKinney – Motherwell
According to Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary…
claiming race n. A horse race in which each entry may be purchased at a previously fixed price, the right to buy often being limited to those people entering horses in that race.
So, what do you call it when dealing with humans? In playwright Robert Glaudini’s gritty tale of a rich married man, his kept woman and her protector-brother, no other term than THE CLAIMING RACE would seem to apply. The terminology of servitude, prostitution, racism, sexism and all general manner of bigotry get bantered about here, but the ties that bind this tale of emotional gambling to more equestrian wagers are almost purely situational.
Here, Deni (Lola Glaudini) is entering her eighth year as paramour to the much older, married and wealthy Millock (Gerry Becker). Having "worked" for Millock since she was 17, Deni has grown wary of her life and worried that she will be traded in for a younger model. There is an alleged job offer from a French couple that Millock has vowed to help her secure by virtue of a letter of recommendation from a prominent business associate, but the letter is elusive. Suspicious, Deni calls upon half-brother Motherwell (Chris McKinney), recently released from prison, to investigate. Add greed to the volatile blend outlined, and THE CLAIMING RACE begins, balloons, and enters the final stretch before the primary players have quite realized their positions. What we have here is a modern commentary, and it is not too kind when it comes to expounding upon human nature and how manipulation can place one person in a position of virtual servitude to another.
To counter the heavy subject matter, the director and design team behind THE CLAIMING RACE offer a fast-paced production, a sleek set to represent Deni’s hotel room, the booming recordings of an inspirational prison preacher to segue scene changes, aptly chosen costumes and well-appointed lighting cues. The acting trio generally does good work with these very difficult characters. Spewing vicious diatribes, revealing unpleasant realities or succumbing to violent urges, the actors meet the mark every time, even when the allocated hatred does not seem to become them.
THE CLAIMING RACE is a harsh yet intriguing examination of a certain slice of life. I would not want to meet any of these people, though I know that they exist out there. Watching this play, I felt like I was eavesdropping on a series of private moments. Like the car wreck that everyone slows down to peruse, I could not look away.
- Kessa De Santis -