Ten years ago, playwright David Lamb opened up everyone’s eyes when he boldly created a hilarious play that looked at the stereotypes that exist between Blacks and Hispanics titled “Platanos Y Collard Greens.” He looked at whether these two groups could find love and have a successful relationship with all the odds stacked against them.
When I first saw that production, I laughed long and hard. Lamb has a gift for being able to point out the negative stereotypes associated with these groups in a very engaging and amusing way. His characters are Hunter College students, and they have a lot to say about the way that Blacks are viewed by Hispanics and vice versa. When everything came together, this production had such a sensational, phenomenal, intelligent kick to it that one had to sit and take notice. Lamb managed to talk about the ignorant views in a very natural way. Characters demonstrated how young people are raised with these ignorant misconceptions by parents who also believe the same thing—parents who think Black Americans are lazy, Latina girls are all hot and ready, you should want to date someone with “good hair” and the list goes on.
Well, Lamb has breathed an additional breath of life, laughter and reality into this production and has given birth to a revamped play called “Platanos Collard Greens Y Callaloo.” Here, he also includes the stereotypes and issues that Caribbeans have with Black Americans. This production is absolutely open-your-mouth-wide, laugh-out-loud, tears-in-your-eyes funny! Lamb not only has the fun and engaging environment of the original production, now he also has the hilarious ingredient of the Caribbean flare.
This brilliant playwright also uses the production as a vehicle with which to address modern–day issues. The students discuss economic vampires in Gracie Mansion and Albany who are raising the tuition, and there is commentary about the poor educational system in New York City, where college students are unable to write a proper sentence. Lamb even takes on “stop-and-frisk,” but does it in such a way that you are engaged and enlightened at the same time. This playwright has a way with words that makes everything in life come full circle, and he shows that no matter what a person’s cultural background, we all have things in common and should appreciate each other instead of believing negative stereotypes about people and dismissing an entire group due to one’s prejudices.
Lamb looks at love from both sides. A Black female asks, “What’s wrong with the chocolate?” as she wonders why Black men are attracted to Latina women. Angelita, the Dominican girl who has the heart of the character Freeman, performs a poem about being Latina, but not being just a sexual object.
There are so many marvelous, entertaining characters in this production. Every moment of the show has something to captivate the audience. Whether one is laughing, opening their mouth in shock or pondering the depth of the messages that Lamb proclaims, you will enjoy “Platanos, Collard Greens Y Callaloo,” playing at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, located at Lexington Avenue and East 25th Street. “Platanos, Collard Greens Y Callaloo” drops tidbits of knowledge, as if planting seeds of historic and current information that will become fertile and grow in the minds of the audience. It provides intelligent and entertaining food for thought.
The cast in this production is priceless! Edgar Moore Jr. is interesting as Freeman, a smart, very well–spoken student who is also a tutor. He is one part of the forbidden couple. Jocelyn Marie is amusing as Angelita, his love interest and a girl who has to fend off the protests of her Dominican mother, who thinks there’s something wrong with her for dating a Black man.
Preston Taylor is nothing less than naturally brilliant and ridiculously funny in the role of Freeman’s best friend, OK. He embraces the negative stereotypes about Latin girls and tries to use them in his raps as he attempts to become a famous hip-hop recording artist. Gordon Harry as Fiftay is hilarious. He is the stereotypical Caribbean man who is always trying to romance the ladies and says all his ideas are original—though they are all a take on someone else’s ideas. Harry’s facial expressions and his other gestures rendered the audience out of control with laughter.
Shakirah DeMesier is poignant as Malady, the Black girl who questions why Black men go for Latina women. This character is intelligent and has a great deal of confidence in her abilities. Gabriel Hamilton is funny as Pops, Freeman’s father. He performs the role with the feel of a familiar, older soul. His character is an educated man who serves to guide the youth as they face the ridiculous prejudices that come from ignorance. Glenn Quinton is very funny as Nah’Mean, a character who embodies negative stereotype about Black Americans. Pamela Rose Rodriguez is entertaining as Nilsa, Angelita’s friend and a girl with a dream to be a hip–hop star.
Director Doni Comas has put together a cast and presentation that easily pleases, entertains and enlightens an audience.
Bravo to Lamb! He is funny and naturally brilliant. He handles the love issues, cultural divides and cultural issues of today with an ease that makes the audience crave more and come away completely captivated, entertained and smiling.
The show is next for Oct. 12. For more upcoming dates and ticket information, visit www.platanosandcollardgreens.com or call 212-352-3101. For group tickets, call 646-522-4348.