Tommy J & Sally

Tommy J & Sally, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; $8-$15. Celebration Arts, 4469 D Street; (916) 455-2787; Through December 22.
Rated 4.0

Can the entire American history of race be boiled down to the story of two people? That’s the major effort undertaken in Mark Medoff’s Tommy J & Sally, in which a black man and a white woman dive into the delusions, mistrust, hope and good intentions that are wrapped around the way that race and class work in the United States.

In Celebration Arts’ fine production, T.J. (Thomas Jefferson)—played to edgy, intelligent perfection by Anthony Person—breaks into the New York City apartment of Sally Hemings (the fragile, angry Nicole DeCroix), a white pop singer, who may or may not be the woman he knew as Madeline Rosenberg in high school. He’s looking for closure; 10 years ago, her family took him in for his final year of high school. He ended up in prison.

What follows is an intense roller-coaster ride through justified black rage and the racism of well-meaning white people. Person’s T.J. is loquacious, charming and threatening, by turns; most often, though, he’s simply wounded and desperate. As Sally, DeCroix has her own wounds to heal—and she’s not doing very well at it.

Directed by James Wheatley, Tommy J & Sally is a tightly paced and intense journey through privilege and bias.