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No Such Thing As Bad Press: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

It has been said that there is no such thing as bad press. This may end up the case for the Huntington theater Company’s production of Guess Who is Coming To Dinner, a show adapted from the 1960’s film of the same name. The pieces advertisement on the Huntington Theatre Company’s website is summarized as,

“Joanna surprises her liberal, white parents when she brings home John, her African-American fiancé, to meet them. Both sets of parents must confront their own unexpected reactions and concerns for their children as their beliefs are put to the test.”

Now nothing seems too harmful about that plot, right?  …. RIGHT? …. Wrong.

As Bill Marx, writer for Arts Fuse, puts it, “Is this meal really necessary?”

Marx goes on to brilliantly states, “Given Ferguson, MO and headlines of unarmed young black men being shot in the streets by the police, this is a disappointing, perhaps even insulting, piece of comfortable Americana for serious theaters to serve on stage.”

Not only this, but even the foundation of love being a magical thing that can even defy the 1960’s racist ideals of who can marry who are put on the line now when news articles about  Django Unchained star Daniele Watts being arrested for kissing her husband inside of their own car under suspicion of engaging in prostitution.

Sure, the Huntington Theatre Company could not have planned for something like this to happen just days before their show opened… except for the fact that this sort of thing is happening all the time. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some press will note the wildly inappropriate timing of putting on a piece like this which Marx described as, “this flaccid dinosaur”.

But the real problem is, now I really want to see the show

Because I am already so riled up about the production I want to go see it and see if I agree with Marx that this show doesn’t need to be put on right now. The academic side of me wants to take my 3 questions, “Why this show?” “Why Here?” Why Now?” straight to the theatre and decide for myself how those questions are answered. But then I am just filling a seat for a show that I distinctly would not want to support.

So will I go see this show? Probably. Will I being posting here on my opinions of the piece if I do? Most certainly.

I sincerely hope that my answers don’t fall in line with the conclusions drawn in Marx’s article because I expect better than using big names and familiar titles from theatre in Boston. Let’s stop letting nostalgia rule us and lets start taking a look at the present.

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