The New York public
school system is not in a great state and Malcolm X High School in the Bronx is
no exception. Metal detectors and security guards mark the entrances and
students regularly arrive at least 20 minutes late for class.
The atmosphere is
not exactly conducive to dramatic exploration and visiting ‘teaching artist’
Nilaja Sun is going to have to pull out all the stops if she’s to persuade the
group of delinquents before her to engage with Timberlake Wertenbaker’s
Our Country’s Good.
Sun gives an
amazingly energetic performance, playing all the students, as well as various
teachers and members of custodial staff. Her physical control is astonishing,
particularly in the role of the disabled school janitor, who acts as the
narrator of the piece.
The show’s dramatic schizophrenia can be tiring to watch – Sun is at her best when given
the chance to spend a little more time which each character – but it’s
difficult to find more fault with this clever, moving show than that.