Sunset Baby and the Audience’s Play

I saw Sunset Baby last night at Dobama Theatre, which bills itself as Cleveland’s Off Broadway Play.  They have a wonderful thrust stage theater and a reputation for taking risks in their repertoire.  They began their season with Sunset Baby by Dominique Morrisseau.  I was unfamiliar with the playwright, a black woman and Detroit native, but I was very impressed with the play, both the text and the production.  (Please go see it if you live in Cleveland.  It plays through September 30th.)

Afterwards, I stayed for the audience discussion with the director, assistant director, and the cast.  I asked them about the fact that the play has funny moments in the midst of the intense drama, and how they managed to find those moments.  They laughed and stated that they didn’t know that the play was funny at all.  It wasn’t until their first Sunday performance that the audience roared at moments in the play, and they discovered that the play had funny moments.  They talked about how there is the play that the playwright’s play, the director’s play, the actor’s play, and the audience’s play.  Many times the play that the audience sees will surprise the actors, as it did in this case.

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