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Speakeasy Stage Company opens Boston premiere of ‘Fairview’ Feb. 17

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Speakeasy Stage Company opens Boston premiere of ‘Fairview’ Feb. 17
Victoria Omoregie and Lyndsay Allyn Cox in rehearsal. PHOTO: ANABEL RIOS PHOTOGRAPHY

On Feb. 17, Speakeasy Stage opens the Boston premiere of “Fairview,” a probing comedy by playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury. Running through March 11, the show uses unexpected twists to investigate both the theater experience and its larger societal reflection.

“Fairview” is a show that famously cannot be talked about. The unique structure and content of the performance can only effectively be experienced in person, with a clean slate of expectations. The shrouded production is directed by Pascale Florestal and features an all-star cast including Lyndsay Allyn Cox, Dom Carter, Yewande Odetoyinbo and Victoria Omoregie.

“I think that what drew me to ‘Fairview’ is the timeliness of the conversation that the play invites folks to have,” says Cox, who plays Jasmine. “The idea of being a part of this production at this specific time in Boston felt really intriguing to me.”

Lyndsay Allyn Cox plays Jasmine in the Speakeasy Stage production of “Fairview.” PHOTO: COURTESY OF SPEAKEASY STAGE COMPANY

At the outset of the performance, we meet a seemingly typical Black middle-class family as they prepare to celebrate their grandmother’s birthday. A surprising turn takes the celebration in an unexpected direction.

Without spoiling anything, it’s safe to say that the play examines what it means to be viewed in the white gaze. According to a data study by ArtsBoston, 89% of arts buyers in Boston are white, 74% are older than 45 and 67% make more than $70,000 per year. Boston is very much operating in a space where white viewers are consuming work by Black artists. All of the actors in the show have experienced performing for an audience that doesn’t reflect their own communities.

“Art imitates life, life imitates art,” says Cox. “I think if we are able to use art, use theater, to confront and analyze and investigate and interrogate the social structures that exist within the theater, knowing that those social structures still exist outside of the theater … if we can begin to tackle them through art, that the hope is that we can begin to tackle them outside of the theater.”

The theater, like other arts arenas, is an insulated space where conversations about racial dynamics can be had. “Fairview” utilizes theatrical surprise to analyze the social dynamics of the theater experience in a way that make a broader statement about our societal structures.

Cox says, “I think it is part of the work of artists to encourage that social commentary. and to encourage art lovers and theater lovers and museum goers to think more deeply about the art they’re consuming and how that may inform the life they’re living outside of the theater.”