It is such a pleasure to go to the theater and see a new work that is smart, compassionate, deep, entertaining, and riveting. Philadelphia Theatre has such a play now in its new show, “How to Catch Creation.” Having played first in Chicago this winter, it is making its East Coast premiere. It’s a play not to be missed. Six African-American characters act and interact with each other and with their pasts as they try to figure out their futures. It is captivating!
One is Griffin who has only been free for a year, after serving a 25-year sentence before he was finally exonerated of a crime he did not commit. He wants one thing in life — to have a child of his own. Tami is his closest friend. A dean of painting at an art school (and is on the committee determining who gets in), she is a gay woman who had put her own life on the back burner while she has helped Griffin adjust to life. Stokes and Natalie are a younger couple who are trying to find their place in the world of the arts but also in the world of life. All these amazing people are also trying to develop their own art, to find that unique creation that is he or she.
It takes place in 2014, but there are regular flashbacks to the 1960s where we encounter the prolific black lesbian writer, G. K. Marche. Stokes has just discovered her when he bought a box of books at a sidewalk sale. He cannot get enough. Griffin has been reading her his whole adult life and even describes himself as a black feminist. Therein lies one of the fascinating aspects of the play. There is no typical stereotype. Each is his or her own self. They are all as honest as they can be. And they are regularly asking each other and themselves, what they want from art, what they want from a relationship, what they want from life.
It also a play about the creation of human life. What does it mean to have and to raise a child? Who is qualified? Who cannot measure up to the task? And what, if anything changes because players in this game of life are not a traditional couple. It is not a typical, silly suburban or urban sitcom. These are caring, thoughtful people.
It’s a two-act play on a revolving circular set that feature dozens of scenes that add to the rhythm and flow of the drama as we get to know the complicated nature of characters. Every scene adds momentum to the intricate stories and the connections that develop by a most extraordinary cast. There isn’t a dull moment as the many stories evolve.
Christina Anderson has penned a masterpiece that will be performed for years to come. Nataki Garrett’s direction has brought to life, both the power and the subtlety of the story. As for the story itself, it will keep you enthralled.