Entertaining, Ambitious, Delightful, Relevant, Great acting
About the Show
Metropolitan Playhouse mounts a rare revival of this '40s satire on African-American social climbing, examining class, gender roles, and intra-racial stereotyping.
Oscar and Dolly Van Striven are hosting their daughter's debutante party in their townhouse on Strivers Row, but the success of the social event of the season is by no means guaranteed. A scheming socialite from Brooklyn, a judgmental grandmother, a secret boyfriend, a presumptuous lottery winner, and none other than 'Joe the Jiver' all want to come to this party.
“A charming, if somewhat creaky, production…Hill created 16 distinctive characters…The play itself is imperfect, with a sentimental ending and one character’s unconvincing enlightenment. But the director, Timothy Johnson, has shaped 16 striking performances here. ‘On Strivers Row’ is a nicely textured satirical portrait of a time, a place and endearing people who love to make pronouncements.”
"A head-spinning mix of low comedy, social satire, and melodrama, and it is decidedly rickety in its structure as it careens unabashedly across all of these forms. But, as performed by a sparkling cast...it is consistently compelling for its portrait of backbiting black-on-black class snobbery...It is often quite funny, yet it carries an undercurrent of racial stereotyping that makes you unsure as to whether to laugh or to cringe...A remarkable piece of the crazy quilt that is American theater."
"Not only is Abram Hill’s 'On Strivers Row' a delightfully entertaining play, it is also a major rediscovery of depiction of a world unknown to most of us. Timothy Johnson’s trenchant production highlights both the play’s strengths and deficiencies. The cast, however, appear to be to the manner born and deliver their one liners as if they always lived in a Noel Coward play."
"An immensely satisfying 1939 satire...The story of upwardly mobile snobbery among the elites of 1940s Harlem is refreshing, entertaining and relevant...The language of the play has a beautiful rhythm nicely reinforced by joyful dance scenes...As choreographer and director, Johnson never slows the pace...It’s all well done, given that he must navigate his sprawling cast in and around the multiple rooms and floors of the Van Strivens’ mansion...The biting repartee is timeless."
"A witty and topical satire...The production is charming and entertaining, but also just too large a play for the space it is staged in...Johnson has staged 16 actors with varying degrees of success. The more intimate moments play very well, but scenes with more people feel sometimes feel unnatural...Occasionally, the quickness that is required for this satire is lacking, and therefore some of the wit is lost as well. Some moments were overplayed while others were slowly stretched out."