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Two Minutes' Traffic: Underground Railroad Game, Woolly Mammoth

The Ars Nova production of Underground Railroad Game, currently staged at Woolly Mammoth, never lets the audience catch their breath, forcing us to look in the mirror of our country and grapple with what we see there. One short, flirtatious conversation between Kidwell and Sheppard's teachers Caroline and Stuart is heartstopping in its escalating tension.  In the space of perhaps two minutes, we watch Stuart, our token white man, let slip a few all-too-common microaggressions towards a black woman. In the space of a few moments, however, implications mount into outright racist caricature even as Kidwell counters with jokes at the expense of white people.  The audience is equal parts appalled at Stuart, laughing at Kidwell's jokes, and made absolutely aware of the power imbalance between a white man and a black woman in our society; I'd love to take that scene and show it to every person who tries to say that reverse racism is a thing, because it really, really isn't.


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