Whorl Inside a Loop: Theater review by Diane Snyder
Sherie Rene Scott blended fact and fiction to enchanting effect in her 2009 semi-autobiographical musical, Everyday Rapture. Now, minus songs, Scott and collaborator Dick Scanlan use their experiences volunteering at an upstate prison for the penetrating Whorl Inside a Loop, about a white actor helping six incarcerated black men tell their stories.
Scott’s character, the Volunteer, has her own troubled past. Soon she’s helping the men find their voices—and appropriating their experiences for her next show. As this plays out, the authors examine the line between selflessness and self-interest, and the similarities between those inside and outside prison walls. The title is a type of fingerprint, said to signify certain extreme attributes, that the Volunteer shares with one of the convicts.
It’s the inmates’ stories that have the most resonance, however, especially that of Jeffrey (An Octoroon’s Chris Myers), wrongly convicted of homicide at 16 and 14 years later still that age mentally. As race and law enforcement continue to make headlines, Whorl is a timely reminder of the precarious nature of justice.—Diane Snyder
Second Stage Theatre (Off Broadway). By Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott. Directed by Michael Mayer and Scanlan. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission.
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