This New Play Is Intensely Uncomfortable, But Also Necessary

Theatre Aluminous gives "White Guy on the Bus" its West Coast premiere at the Flight Deck.


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"White Guy on the Bus" hits hard with intensity.

Courtesy Aluminous

At the heart of Bruce Graham’s play White Guy on the Bus is a mystery: What’s that white guy doing on the bus? Why does this rich, white investment adviser from the Philadelphia suburbs ride a bus through an impoverished black neighborhood and past a prison every Saturday?

On those weekly rides, he strikes up a friendly acquaintance with a young African-American single mother who’s working hard to put herself through school. We also see this guy at home with his wife, an inner-city schoolteacher, and the young couple they’ve befriended in the ’burbs. But there is of course a reason for his mysterious weekend commute, and when it comes out, it brings into stark relief thorny issues of privilege, race, and vengeance.

This hard-hitting, intensely difficult play premiered in Chicago last year, and now the small company Theatre Aluminous (a group that has traditionally specialized in two-actor plays, which this isn’t) gives White Guy on the Bus its West Coast premiere at the Flight Deck in downtown Oakland. The play may make for an intensely uncomfortable viewing experience at times, but it just might be necessary.

White Guy on the Bus, Sept. 15-24, Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun 2 p.m.; $5-$30. The Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland, 303-304-0959, Aluminous.org.

This report appears in the September edition of our sister publication, The East Bay Monthly.

2016-09-13 08:00 AM

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