“Welcome To Braggsville” presented by Book-It

This highly praised novel has lost something in its transition to the stage (adaptation by Josh Aaseng and Daemond Arrindell). The concept is a wry one. Four Berkeley students filled with the innocence of youth and ardor for political correctness descend on a segregated Georgia town to teach the locals a lesson.

This occurs after one of their number, D’aron, tells them about his hometown’s Civil War reenactment ceremony, a yearly event that celebrates the Confederacy. Immediately the friends determine that they have a mission of reeducation. Off they go on their quest to bring political correctness to these unenlightened southerners.

It’s an interesting foursome, well acted on this stage. The young woman, blonde beautiful Candice (Sylvie Davidson) can’t wait to spread the word. Charlie, the African American football player and closeted gay (Dimitri Woods) thinks it could be a good plan, and Louis (Justin Huertas), the Asian who lights up the stage with his portrayal, sees all sorts of possibilities. D’aron (Zack Summers) the somewhat naive young southern boy has a few reservations, but he’s game for whatever this quartet is up to.

Sadly, Book-It’s production directed by Josh Aaseng is well meaning but overlong, overwrought, convoluted, and a tedious lesson in racial politics.

Book-It suggests that the book from which this production was developed explores our country’s complicated and tragic history of racial injustice. I’m sure it does. What their production doesn’t do is present that reality as compelling theatre.

Through July 2 at Center Theatre at the Armory, in Seattle Center, 206-216-0833 or www.book-it.org.

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