THE WRONG KIND OF PEOPLE
We don’t get many colored folks in the Guardian.
The bell hop FixIt to law student Theo
USC law student Theo Rollins (Ken Ivy is amazing), is dressed for high success wearing a suit with a tie, crisp white shirt, pressed black pants and shined shoes. He rents a room at the prestigious Guardian Hotel in Los Angeles for both solace and to study for the bar. Unfortunately, too many shenanigans are happening and he will be lucky to flip a page or two of his many thick books. It’s 1942 and Theo is at the forefront of history in the making. The first cadets at the flying school at Tuskegee in Alabama graduated on March 7, 1942. Activist Huey P. Newton was born on February 17, 1942 in Monroe, Louisiana and soul diva Aretha Franklin blessed the world with her presence on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. The tide slowly, too damn slowly, turned for African Americans who were the major contributors in war, using non-violent means with plenty of protests and marches spreading widely in the South. Even though Theo rented a room for $5, he gets the Negro room. That’s the small, dusty room with no air conditioner in the blazing summer, no phone, and furniture coated with thick inches of dust and no view except for a brick wall across the street.
As he quickly unpacks his clothes and a relic typewriter, FixIt, a bellhop (Damon Rutledge) is very talkative about what’s going on at the hotel. He also speaks about his dreams to one day own cab company, catering service, and all other business in the neighborhood. He offers the young grad student a couple of dollars for his pocket if he’s willing to allow some “co-workers” come through Theo’s window. He agrees only to get FixIt out of his room. As soon as FixIt leaves, Theo begins to study. Out of nowhere, FixIt’s peoples come through the window. It’s a hub of colorful characters walking through. Here comes the inebriated Judge Purdy (Darrell Philip) who slips Theo $10 for his trouble. He also has a panache to say many Latin proverbs. The paunchy judge and FixIt plan to catch his honor’s wife, Mrs. Purdy, (Stephanie Shulz), cheating. He’s been keeping tabs on her whereabouts for four months and discovered that she stays at the Guardian the first Friday of the month. FixIt knows the room number and relays the message to the intoxicated judge. After uttering more Latin proverbs, he takes one long sip of alcohol and instantly passes out. Weak! Meantime, Theo is still trying to get some studying time and FixIt’s maneuvers his many power plays at the hotel.
Mex (Chauntice Green) a pretty-looking light skinned call girl comes through. She lets Theo know that “high yella can pass for a Mexican.” Lastly, Spider (Stephen Tyler Howell) a low level card shark, getting read for a poker game at the hotel, makes his entrance. Theo manages to get through the ruckus in his tiny room located way in the back of the hotel. Can a brotha catch a break? Writer George Corbin, (Plantin, Sábado Mornings) does an excellent job in connecting the sane protagonist into a whirlwind of accelerated confusion.
Rutledge is a prize. As the bellhop with hustles on the side, his quips are fast and loose. His humor is infectious and fill the place with hearty laughter. Phillip does an excellent job as the oft-drunken judge while spewing out nonsensical Latin proverbs. Green is perfect as the street smart girl that can teach the rest of the characters on how to survive when the world disowns you. Ivy is sensational. His arc from all-over-the-place grad student to soon to be a bonafide lawyer isn’t smooth. There are roads that block an cajole him into doing something else. After meeting all this people, you would think he would want to choose professions. But he survives and hopefully will thrive after the night ends.
Under C. Julian White’s direction, the show moves at an even pace. The quick-witted lines provided by Corbin coincides with the actor’s actions. Nothing feels rushed and the heartfelt laughter derived from the audience is as authentic as Corbin and White’s execution of a wonderful story.
The Wrong Kind of People ends this Sunday at 3 p.m., plays Friday (12-6) and Saturdays (12-7) at 8 p.m. playing at the Los Angeles Theatre Center located at 514 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, For ticket information log on to www. www.thelatc.org or call 213-489-7402.