Ruby (Brooke Reams) and Wilson (Kevin Tre’Von Patterson) seem to have a picture-book marriage. While their daughter is away at summer camp, they plan on trying for another baby. But when Ruby’s best friend, Claire (Deveon Bromby), comes to stay a few weeks while recovering from the loss of a husband shot by a white cop, the couple’s seemingly blissful existence is shattered.
Christopher Burris directs this midwest Redtwist premiere of Rabbit Summer, Tracey Conyer Lee’s tense, funny, and angry 2018 relationship drama, which, rather than shying away from facing some of the most complex and systemic issues plaguing this country, takes them all head-on. When it’s not dealing with gun violence, it’s addressing racism; then, for a breather, it tackles infidelity, abortion, and absent fathers. In less-capable hands, this material would have sunk under its own weight, but Lee has fashioned three characters who can pick it up, lift it, and keep going. It is a testament to these three talented actors that no matter how heavy the message they’re tasked with delivering, I never felt for a moment that they were less than fully-formed human beings rather than conduits for information.
Wilson’s prized chifforobe—passed down for generations and used at one time to shelter runaway slaves in its false backing—is the central metaphor and physical manifestation of the warring forces facing African Americans in this country. It conceals as much as it reveals. It carries a weighty load, but with its doors flung open is ready to take on whatever comes. v