A Free Man of Color

John Guare’s gaudy, overstuffed period piece is a spangled, jangling historical pageant that’s alternately profound and trivial. The self-conscious hodgepodge of styles (sex farce, pseudo-Restoration comedy, race drama) can take a jerky, uneven rhythm, but there’s plenty here to dazzle the eye and occupy the mind. Jeffrey Wright plays a freed slave in New Orleans circa 1801 who finds himself the victim of shifting fortunes, as the city is handed over from the French to the Americans. George C. Wolfe commands a terrific cast with maximum flash.—David Cote


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