"Inner City," which Paul Allen introduced several summers ago at the now defunct Washington Theater Club, is back in revised form at Paul Robeson Center, 1632 O St., NW, with Thursday through Sunday performances.
Since collaborating on this with Helen Miller, Eve Merriam has had striking success with "The Club," wherein a female cast mocks the mannerisms of the Edwardian all-male club. In "Inner City" she and Miller are more contemporary - the topic is street life in the ghetto.
The performing strength here is Mike Malone's effective dance direction. He uses his performers within their talents, rousing the Robeson's small audience to stomps and shouts of approval.
Is there a place in Washington for a resident black theater? Jay Williams, who has been operating the modest Robeson Center for three years, deserves the attention of those who deplored the failure of D.C. Black Repertory company last year.
"Inner City" has capable performers, most especially Lajuana Greene, who does beautifully with "Deep in the Night,"; Lydia Kellogg, who shows humor and voice in several differing assignments, and Jimmy Carroll, who commands vocal style and presence. The cast enjoys audience empathy with its lively evocations of street life.
With its cast of a dozen and Anthony Booker's precise musical direction, "Inner City" is a solid showcase for the area's black performers. Whether it can muster the support the D.C. Black Rep failed to locate is a provocative question.