New York state of mind

Three Ways Home

Rated 4.0

The new show at Celebration Arts is a New York story—related through monologues and dialogues—about a 30-something, low-income black mom, her emotionally unstable teenage son, and the 40-ish, childless, white woman from Greenwich Village who volunteers as their social worker.

Mostly, the story’s between the two women, as they establish a relationship, despite their very different backgrounds. There are ups and downs—plus one devastating loss—yet in the end they understand each other pretty well.

That summary, no doubt, sounds sweet. Indeed, our guess is that in the wrong hands, this could become a maudlin tale.

But that’s not what happens here. Credit the absorbing chemistry that director James Wheatley develops between performers Georganne Wallace (as Sharon, the white social worker) and Brenda Cepeda (as Dawn, the black mom). Wallace gives her character backbone and earthiness—Cepeda makes Dawn’s decision to accept Sharon as a friend believable. The intimacy of the 49-seat theater is a plus.

Rashad Jahi puts admirable energy into his performance as Dawn’s son, Frankie. Alas, playwright Casey Kurtti has drawn Frankie with less complexity than the two women.

Production values are very basic, and the script (dating from the late 1980s) sounds a trifle dated, especially the discussion comparing Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation to Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple.