Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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‘What I Learned in Paris’ at the Alliance Theatre

2012 September 19

Danny Johnson and Crystal Fox

“What I Learned in Paris” takes you on a light-hearted ride back to 1973 when Maynard Jackson has just become Atlanta’s first black mayor and women are striving for independence.

Playwright Pearl Cleage, who actually served as Jackson’s press secretary, twirls a story around Jackson’s mayoral campaign that focuses on romance and self growth.

Cleage depicts a time of political and social change as a divorced, wealthy black woman contemplates moving to a swanky white Buckhead neighborhood, and a young secretary contemplates marrying J.P. (Danny Johnson), an attorney she doesn’t love simply because it will bring good social change.

In comedic form, Evie (Crystal Fox), J.P.’s ex-wife, traipses around in long flowing kaftans, and spars with him in an ever so mindful Buddhist way as she lectures him on how to behave and breathe. Milk-toast character John (Eugene H. Russell IV), J.P.’s right-hand man, finally stands up for himself, puffing out his cheeks like a blowfish and inflating his chest like a blustering George Jefferson.

“What I Learned in Paris” is a farcical romantic comedy with twists that neatly wraps up in a tidy bow. A cute play with a terrific cast.

Brian Sidney Bembridge presents a beautiful Brady Bunch ’70s-style two-story modern home with clean lines. Crystal Fox keeps us laughing with an over-the-top “Maude”-like passion for life.

Directed by Susan  V. Booth, “What I Learned in Paris” runs at the Alliance Theatre through Oct. 6.

Cast:

Kelsey Scott plays Ann Madison

January LaVoy plays Lena Jefferson

 

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