You know you've just seen one helluva play when you spend the next 24 hours doing mental jujitsu with yourself, finding no singular, clear-cut meaning but a kaleidoscope of brilliant, contradictory hues. It's not exhausting; it's true.
Sheepdog is One Helluva Play.
After 90 minutes with playwright Kevin Artigue's intricate, difficult show, I found myself in a one-person debate about the story's creation, themes, and actions, riddled with more questions than answers. Among them: What does it mean for a white playwright to write a Black main character? How does that main character's second-person performance affect that dynamic? When does firsthand documentation of violence become a snuff film? When does it belong in the theater? I only have 250 words to break this puzzle down, so I can just begin to crack its surface and highly encourage you to hit Shattered Globe for this one.
Directed with care by Wardell Julius Clark, the setup is as poetic and terse as a good headline: Amina (Leslie Ann Sheppard) and Ryan (Drew Schad) are interracial partners on the Cleveland police force who eventually become partners in life. When Ryan pulls over and shoots a Black citizen, however, Amina finds herself pulled in myriad directions while her white, male partner leans into her for support and affirmation.
Dishonesty and reluctance flow between the two, with Amina guiding the audience through the nonlinear framing. I won't give more of the story away, but the intimacy coordination from Jyreika Guest and set design by Sydney Lynne Thomas round out the production with superfine, successful detail. v