Why did Topdog/Underdog win a Pulitzer? This production isn’t telling.

Playwright Suzanne Lori Parks is a big deal—but why?

In Topdog/Underdog, an African American man makes a living doing whiteface as Abraham Lincoln—and getting shot.

I don’t know if I’ve really seen this play yet. Topdog/Underdog won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Its author, Suzan-Lori Parks, is considered by many to be an important voice in American theatre. But, in this production from Seven Tyrants Theatre, Topdog/Underdog is boring and the script looks awkward.

There are several possible explanations for this disjuncture. One is that the play just isn’t very good. All sorts of mediocre scripts have won Pulitzer Prizes. I’m lookin’ at you, The Heidi Chronicles and Talley’s Folly. [Read more…]