Katrina: Mother-in-Law of ’em All

Theater, Drama
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 (Photograph: James Yost)
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Photograph: James Yost

Katrina: Mother-in-Law of ’em All at Interrobang Theatre Project

 (Photograph: James Yost)
2/4
Photograph: James Yost

Katrina: Mother-in-Law of ’em All at Interrobang Theatre Project

 (Photograph: James Yost)
3/4
Photograph: James Yost

Katrina: Mother-in-Law of ’em All at Interrobang Theatre Project

 (Photograph: James Yost)
4/4
Photograph: James Yost

Katrina: Mother-in-Law of ’em All at Interrobang Theatre Project

Six first-person narratives of Hurricane Katrina are clumsily interwoven.

New Orleans playwright Rob Florence’s awkwardly-titled work takes its name from its setting: the Mother-in-Law Lounge, a bar originally opened by R&B singer Ernie K-Doe and named for his 1961 number-one song, “Mother-in-Law.” It was being run by Ernie’s widow Antoinette at the time Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, and she’s one of the six real New Orleanians whose verbatim, first-person Katrina stories Florence weaves together in the play, which is framed as a one-year-later gathering.

Aside from Antoinette, there’s not enough context available for the rest of the group to indicate much about their larger lives or why Florence might have chosen them, and their individual timelines irksomely don’t match up. (One of the white male characters talks in a way that suggests he expects us to know who he is; perhaps New Orleans locals would recognize him.)

Director Georgette Verdin’s languidly paced production is staged with the audience on three sides on a set by Greg Pinsoneault that suggests the Mother-in-Law as wrestling ring. But while we can gather that the Mother-in-Law is a real place, there’s little sense of where we are dramaturgically.

Interrobang Theatre Project at the Den Theatre. By Rob Florence. Directed by Georgette Verdin. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 5mins; one intermission.

By: Kris Vire

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Event website: http://www.interrobangtheatreproject.org/
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