The Trinity River Plays Review by Cindy Avila

May 25, 2011 in Cindy Bandle Young Critics by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

The trilogy, “The Trinity River Plays” written by Regina Taylor, is composed of three interconnected plays –“Jar Fly,” “Rain,” and “Ghoststory”—a combination of acts that brings attention to the issues our society would much rather push to the side.  Following the life of Iris, a young girl growing up in Dallas, who unexpectedly experiences a dreadful and completely devastating experience that destroys the relationships she has with those around her.  At the age of 17, she is already questioning why others choose to call her “something she’s not” as an African American and dreaming of thoughts that might one day become a reality.  Her roots, spread within the family and the very place she lives, sculpts her life and the respect she receives throughout her experiences growing up.

Feeling jarred by the expectations and lack of experiences she has by staying at home and, with a rowdy cousin who’s clearly unstable, the structure of her family suddenly becomes even more vulnerable.  Dealing with issues such as family support, lack of communication, frustrations between each social class, economic pressures, gender issues, of maintaining individuality, Regina Taylor allows for the younger audience to experience a completely different and twisted approach to her work compared to those who frequently go to the theatre. Having seen the play at the Goodman, I would strongly urge children, younger than 13, to stay at home unless their parents approve otherwise.  Not only is the length of the play to take into consideration but the emotional content that each individual must go through afterward is another factor that parents should be made aware of.  The fear of death, one that we would all much rather not discuss, is a common theme that bonds the story of each character and makes them more personable.

Unless absolutely compelled by the poetic meaning of everything used and said throughout the play, it is actually quite difficult to enjoy the performance for three hours, watching a woman attempt to gain respect from others.  Although the plot is interesting, the actual play could have easily been much more compelling if Taylor had not dragged the ending.  Although the family revolves around the set, a house that encompasses the day to day lifestyle of the average American family in the late 20th century, it also became quite frustrating to watch each characters try to utilize the few props available over and over again.  Most importantly, the metaphors take away from the actual event that separates the characters, leaving each audience member absolutely confused by intermission and completely lost by the end of the play.

Although “The Trinity River Plays” was certainly not the best Goodman play I’ve seen this season, I do praise Regina for her grand attempt in bringing to the theatre a new form of normalcy and relatability for her audience.  Although most had left the theatre absolutely exhausted from attempting to determine which characters were real, what each object was representing in Iris’s life, how each character related, and how early we would all have to wake up the next morning, tired, since the play had gone well into the evening, it was a performance that left us observant about our surroundings.  Now questioning what aspects of life I had put aside or have tried to ignore, I was impressed by the emotional lifestyle and insecurity that the main character presented.  Unfortunately the artistic and captivating scope of the play was not present and quickly became more similar to a Soap opera rather than a Goodman play.