A White Guy on the Bus Review - Why Not Take the Mercedes?

Why is a well-heeled white guy taking a bus anywhere? Especially with luxury vehicles at his fingertips? And why take a bus which goes express to a local lock-up? Award-winning playwright Bruce Graham has taken racial issues and thrown them on their head in this thought-provoking tale of moral ambiguity, racial biases, and – to add some spice to the mix - revenge. Directed by Stewart J. Zully, WHITE GUY ON THE BUS is a complex and intriguing tale of what happens when black meets white.

Kacie Rogers and Kevin McCorkle - Photo by Michele Young

This white guy goes by the name Ray (Kevin McCorkle). He lives a privileged life in an affluent suburb and enjoys all the perks which money and status provide. Perhaps to offset their comfortable lifestyle, his wife Roz (Amy Stoch) is a teacher in a ghetto school who is trying her best to help struggling inner city students in a largely African American high school. She inspires and motivates them to write poetry so that they can rise above their surroundings and reach for the American dream. Even when they call her ugly racial names, she sticks to her calling and works even harder.

Teagan Rose, Crash Buist, Kevin McCorkle, and Amy Stoch - Photo by Michele Young

The couple helped raise their neighbor’s son Christopher (Crash Buist), a little boy who spent most of his time with nannies who didn’t speak English before they moved next door. Now he’s grown up, and he and his bride Molly (Teagan Rose) are facing the economic dilemmas of many young couples. She’s newly pregnant, and his future is up in the air after a falling-out with his university mentor which may destroy his career plans.

Kevin McCorkle and Amy Stoch - Photo by Michele Young

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, African-American Shatique (Kacie Rogers) lives in the ghetto, struggling to complete her nursing program so that she can become the mother she wants to be for her young son.  Black and white.  A developing ambiguity surrounds their chance encounter on the bus. Audience beware: Some pretty raw racial epithets abound as each principal tries to find his footing on the slippery slope of racial equality.

Kacie Rogers and Kevin McCorkle - Photo by Michele Young

Director Steward J. Zully does an excellent job of grounding these disparate characters and keeping the audience’s eye on the many issues in the play. The talented cast develops each of these personalities and makes them live and breathe. Sarah B. Brown’s simple scenic design keeps the focus on the underlying message as scenes overlap on the multi-level stage. The entire production team does a competent job of leading the story forward, with special kudos to Derrick McDaniel for his lighting design.

Crash Buist and Teagan Rose - Photo by Michele Young

Perhaps the various scenes could have been organized slightly differently in order the lead to the shocker later in the play. To this end, this reviewer was disappointed that the play did not begin with the initial bus scene. Nonetheless, WHITE GUY ON THE BUS will prove a thoroughly entertaining audience pleaser while positing issues which may lead to thoughtful discussion after the play ends. 

Kevin McCorkle, Teagan Rose, and Crash Buist - Photo by Michele Young

WHITE GUY ON THE BUS runs through March 18, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Road Theatre Company is located in the NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 West Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91602. Tickets are $34 ($17.50 for students and seniors). For information and reservations, call 818-761-8838 or go online.  

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