What it's about.
Downtown Race Riot is a play that revolves around the friendship of two young men. One, who is Caucasian, by the name of Pnut (prounounced peanut) and the other who is a Haitian immigrant, by the name of Massive. Massive fits in with a crowd of misfits, or at least tries to, which Pnut doesn't agree with. This makes Pnut feel that their friendship is threatened. One day, the misfits confront Pnut about their ring leader having a plan to set up his best friend Massive at a race riot being held in downtown Manhattan and Pnut's love and loyalty for his best friend shows when he has to dramatically decide to pull the trigger on the misfits in order to save his best friend or just let his best friend go.
I don't know if any of you remember but last time I was writing a review about the show Basement, I mentioned how right before the show started, I saw one of the people I follow on Instagram who is an up and coming actor and an activist as well. Well, when I had to choose another show to see, I choose Downtown Race Riot because... I saw (on Instagram) that he was part of the cast and it was going to be his Off Broadway debut!
The entire play takes place in Pnut's home where his drug-addict mother, and his free-spirited sister live with him. His mother is seen as the "cool mom" because she doesn't see color, race or religion or any background as superior than one other. In the play, she doesn't want her son Pnut or any of the boys to participate in the race riot. She even conducts a "love circle" between her son Pnut, her daughter, Massive and the misfits when things seem to get heated amongst the youngsters.
Pnut doesn't really enjoy his best friend Massive being in awe of one of the misfits and his graffiti talent. Even though he doesn't like it, because Massive is his best friend, he tolerates the misfits.
Pnut's younger sister, pushes up on Massive right in their living room. Pnut did not know at first, because when this all was happening he went to check on his mom in her bedroom. Now, making out/sex scenes are always awkward so of course when they started making out I sat as still as possible, being that I was in between two elderly women once again. It was even more awkward because it went from a make out scene, to them playing around with each other and then straight into the bedroom for like 10 minutes - which felt like forever! - but whatever.
Of course Pnut finds out about Massive and his sister making out, when the misfits ring and Pnut comes out to check why his sister didn't open the door. At first Pnut was disgusted and did not approve of what they were doing (as if any brother would because I know my own brother would be frustrated if that were to EVER happen, especially in our house while him and my mom were home AND with his friend) but he comes around to the idea (a little too soon for me...) by giving Massive his blessings. And, of course, Massive and Pnut's younger sister go right back to their shenanigans.
I really connected to this play, because one of the main characters, Massive (also the one I follow on Instagram), was a Haitian immigrant. Massive's character talks about how his family had to move away from Haiti to the United States because people back in Haiti were after his father. When they came to the United States, they settled in Harlem but because he was different from the other black American's, they ran his family out of Harlem as well. In the present time of the play, Massive talks about how his family settled in Greenwich Village and even then some of the black Americans would ask him why he hangs out with the "white boys" and listens to different music from them and speaks so articulate.
Although I am not an immigrant, I can relate with Massive because I have family and close friends that went through the same situation - feeling out of place because of being Haitian or having a Haitian background and choosing to live differently than the "norm" of a black American. Growing up, I had to stand up and argue with several people in school because of negative things they would say about being Haitian. His character hit close to home.
Certain words that were mentioned such as "tonton macoute" (which were a special operations unit in the Haitian parliament back in 1959) in the Haitian Creole language were exciting to me. Plus, Massive talking about bringing goat, plantains and black rice to school because that is what his mother would pack him for lunch, made me laugh cause I could relate.
By the way, I finally had the guts to send him (the one I follow on Instagram) a direct message to say how well he did and, as a fellow Haitian sister, I was very proud! and YES, he did respond. #winning
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