When it comes to education, does it really matter where you live?

Photo by Cristian Kreckler

     “There’s no wall keeping them over there and us over here. 
            It’s just a line. A line in the dust.”
Photo by Cristian Kreckler

Beverly Long (Kelly Jenrette) and Denitra Morgan (Erica Tazel) are both in the market for a new home. After the showing, they both step outside and converse as if they were lifelong friends. Beverly is the new principal at the prestigious Millburn High School located in New Jersey. The school is primarily for the elite and the highly educationally advanced. Denitra said she’s a corporate attorney. Beverly offers her assistance to Denitra to secure a spot for her daughter Noelle.

Fast forward a year later and a half, Beverly’s son and Denitra’s daughter attend Millburn. For the moment, all is good. As Beverly looks forward to her first day, conflict ensues. Malik, a male student, is murdered. Private investigator Mike DiMaggio (Tony Pasqualini) conducts an intense investigation. He discovers that Malik lived outside of the perimeter to attend Millburn.

Mike begins taking pictures of students who he believes don’t belong at Millburn. He soon discovers that Malik lied about his residency. Mike does another check if other students have done the same thing. He lurks behind bushes with his camera taking pictures of anyone suspicious. He finally hits pay dirt when he follows Denitra’s daughter Noelle, living Newark. Denitra catches the PI trying to photograph her daughter and manages to scare him off. Beverly soon finds out.

The women have a heated discussion about the situation. Both ladies make good points about placing Noelle, who is a bright student, in Millburn because the school she’s designated to attend won’t nurture her abilities to excel. Denitra knows if her daughter goes to the ratcheted school in their neighborhood, she will not be encouraged in seeking higher learning. Beverly understands why Denitra lied but informs her that Noelle will be expelled. Denitra is in shock on what Beverly tells her and strenuously disagrees. Her daughter deserves to be in Millburn. Beverly encourages her to go through the proper channels. Denitra shakes her head saying there was no other way her daughter would’ve been accepted because she lived outside the school’s geographical boundaries.

Playwright Nikkole Salter wrote a hella of a good story about education and what must be done, to obtain an excellent education for students coming from rough beginnings. She presents both sides of the issue succinctly. Director Desean K. Terry executes Salter’s vision perfectly. The tension is thick and the going back and forth on the topic makes it difficult to pick a side. However, a side must be chosen. Terry ends with an ambiguous ending leaving the audience to imagine how the story should end.

WHAT: Lines in the Dust
WHERE: Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles. Street parking available.
WHEN: Friday at 8:30, Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., ends Sunday the 10th at 7:30.
WHY: Very poignant and thought provoking
RUN TIME: 1 hour and 40 minutes. No intermission.
HOW MUCH: Tickets $35 – $55