A Café Au Lait Story
While we’re still basking in the rosy dawn of the Age of Obama, it’s nonetheless appropriate to glance back and consider the lessons of an age when mixed-race couples and their ethnically-diverse progeny was the subject of gawking, misunderstanding and discrimination. With “The Making of a Mulatto,” Juliette Fairely brings the story of her parents’ meeting to the theatre in a well-performed but paper-thin one-woman show at the Sunset Gardner Stages.
Fairley’s father was a black American G.I. stationed in France in the 60’s, and her mother was a French Princess who grew up with memories of having had Nazi soldiers stomp into their house unannounced and take whatever they wanted. The couple migrated back to the United States to raise their family, only to encounter repression of a slightly-less obvious, but no less confounding kind.
An accomplished actress, Fairley demonstrates great facility with the accents (French, southern whites and blacks, a mellifluous Baptist preacher, etc.) of the eight characters she portrays in her performance and touches on themes that are well worth exploring. Drawing similarities between the Nazi regime in France and the equally brutal Jim Crow south is an interesting parallel that deserves more attention than what it gets here. However, at less than 30 minutes in length, this work is so slight as to appear insubstantial, and, at least at this stage in its development, feels like something well-suited to an acting class than to a public performance.