The Rep, Inc. uses some remarkable actors, and their talents are better displayed in the intimacy of their current theater at 3710 Georgia Ave. than they were in the big old movie house inhabited by the group's more renowned forerunner, the D.C. Black Repertory Company.
In all of The Rep's productions this year, including "No Place to Be Somebody," which opened last weekend and resumes tonight, most of the performances have been consistently focused and keenly observed in the naturalistic manner preferred by the company.
The Rep's productions, however, have not been completely satisfying. An evening at The Rep usually means at least three hours.Some of this can be attributed to the leisurely pace with which most of The Rep's plays seem directed, and in the case of "Somebody," director Ed De Shae has left room for more slack moments than the directors of previous Rep productions this year did.
The undue length of the evenings also can be attributed to the scrupulousness with which The Rep handles its text. This season the company staged three black plays from the past. Parts of all of them have dated, but The Rep seems hestitant to trim the fat. It's one thing to revere the recent black theatrical heritage, but it's another thing to embalm it.
"Somebody," which won the Pulitzer Prize for Charles Gordone in 1970, is still on its feet when it peers into the mind of the shady young bar owner Johnny Williams and the funny, pathetic dreams of his staff. The Rep's artistic director is a commanding figure as johnny is the "A" troupe (there are alternate casts).
But "Somebody" is not as adept when it focuses on Johnny's "intellectual" friends. This character's monologues are pretentious arias that distract from the rest of the play.
Still, those actors are something to behold.