Dot is a comedy-drama written by playwright/actor Colman Domingo (“Fear the Walking Dead”) that has been performed in different parts of the nation and is currently at the Ground Floor Theater in Austin.
The play is set in late December, a few days before Christmas, in the West Philadelphia home of an elder African American widow Dot (Melody Fullylove). The matriarch appears just fine, but at times her behavior changes to hopeless and confused due to worsening dementia. Her oldest daughter and single mother, Shelly (Michelle Alexander), takes care of her and obviously needs respite from the duties of juggling multiple roles of daughter, mother and full-time employee. She is quite resentful that her siblings are not helping with all that is required for Dot’s care and her needs are increasing.
The play’s title character is a sweet individual and despite the dementia does not have such a difficult personality to observe as opposed to her three adult children. Shelly is super stressed and does not appear to muster up kind words for anyone anymore. Donnie (Jeremy Rashad Brown) and Averie (Oktavea LaToi) are both oblivious to their mother’s condition and with Shelly in her state of stress, they are ignoring her pleas. The actors are very good in their performance, but the character played most over the top is Averie and while there is humor from her lines and behavior, some scenes are way, way over the top in a sitcom-style. Behavior includes shouting matches, and the actors are effective.
The flamboyant Averie has financial issues and lives in her sister’s basement but doesn’t communicate. Donnie arrives for a holiday visit with his white husband Adam (Grayson Hunt). It doesn’t take long to notice their marriage is going through a difficult stage. Shelly’s white childhood friend Jackie (Patti Neff-Tiven) has returned to her hometown to sort out some of her personal issues. She dated Donnie in high school and had real feelings for him but is aware he is married to Adam. They have their drama too.
A very bright spot in Dot’s life is her personal care assistant, Fidel (Jeremy Canales). He is Kazakhstan-born and is kind and attentive to Dot’s needs, yet her adult children are dismissive of him and in certain ways seem to treat him unfavorably and using a specific term for him. The actors are very good at performing the disdain, instead of showing gratitude for the care he provides. Canales is one to watch.
The play does have broad humor, but when there are some serious interactions, the actors do an excellent job of providing an emotional impact, especially Melody Fullylove as she has increasing dementia. At one point she believes her late husband is still alive. There are universal human issues.
DOT runs through May 28th at the Ground Floor Theatre, 979 Springdale Rd. Thursday thru Saturday at 8:00pm; Sunday at 5:00pm and Wednesday, May 25 at 8:00pm. Tickets and more information: www.groundfloortheatre.org/dot or 512-840-1084
Source: Ground Floor Theater