“A Shade of Green” a world premiere by Charles Waxberg opened at Theatre 9-12 on Friday night. This modern morality play takes place in the visiting room of a prison and involves a tango of moral conflicts danced by a serial killer on death row and Everyman, who is terminally ill. Paradoxically, both men are responsible, but in different ways, for their own death sentences. The ensuing conversation involves the serial killer making a offer to Everyman, which he can neither morally accept nor morally reject. In discussing whether or not to accept the offer, both characters account for their imperfect lives, and dissect the meaning of integrity.
Terry Edward Moore, as Andy Kahn the serial killer, was brilliant. Moore delivered gallows humor, profound insight into the human condition and was totally believable as a clever, intelligent, manipulative psychopath. As the representative of cunning evil, the character was superb; he was seductively honest about issues of life and death, witty, cruel, yet appealing and totally evil. Played by Michael Oaks, Lyman Conroy, as the modern Everyman, was a real flesh and blood representative of the imperfect individual facing a profound temptation and in the process expresses every human emotion known to mankind.
The opening of this play should be used in Playwrighting classes to illustrate how to put action into exposition, how to create suspense virtually from the first sentence, how to compound moral conflicts and how to keep the audience riveted to their seats, for the next 90 minutes. Not every playwright can take two guys sitting in a room talking and keep the audience’s attention and make a profound moral statement about integrity and temptation.
At the end of the play, I felt much as I had after watching‚ “Shindler’s List”, “Shade of Green” was thought-provoking and I kept trying to understand the tragic cruelty of the serial killer as well as the integrity of Lyman. Lyman, like Oskar Shindler, is an imperfect man who challenges and defeats Evil.
If you only have one play to see this year, let it be this one. “Shade of Green”, did not speak to the least common denominator, nor did it entertain us with cheap mindless tricks. ‚ÄúA Shade of Green‚Äù is about universal moral issues. And maybe Newt Gingrich should see it.
A SHADE OF GREEN. by Charles Waxberg, directed by Paul O’Connell and Charles Waxberg. Theatre 9-12, 609 8th Ave. First Hill, Seattle. (In Trinity Episcopal Church-Parish Hall) January 27 to February 19. www.theatre912.com (206) 332-7908-Pay What you Can.
Photo by Michael Brunk.