While the dramedy Dot is the fifth production in the New Conservatory Theatre Center’s current season, the excitement in San Francisco with so many new shows opening reminded us of what we’ve missed and what we have to look forward to as we slowly come out of the pandemic.
“Dot” is the perfect choice for us to renew our love for theatre as it brings comedy, drama and a realization of how precious life is.
But before talking more about “Dot,” let’s take a mini-master class in its writer Colman Domingo, who is likely one of the most talented human beings to walk this earth.
Domingo, who actually made his theatre debut at the NCTC as a young man in 1991, is an actor/writer/director/musician who has been nominated for Tony and Olivier Awards. As a person who does one-man shows with music, Domingo has had great success with his “Wild with Happy” and “A Boy and His Soul” As a stage actor, his award nominations came from his heart-breaking and multi-character portrayals in “The Scottsboro Boys” both on Broadway and London.
His theatre credits also take him behind the scenes, allowing others their time in the limelight. He recently won acclaim for his book for the Broadway musical “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” As an ultra fan of his, I also hope his wonderful “Lights Out: Nat ‘King’ Cole” makes it to Broadway one day which I have not stopped thinking of since I saw it at the Geffen Playhouse in 2019.
Fans of the screen also know Domingo. Besides being in every important black movie for the past several years — “Selma,” “The Butler,” “The Birth of a Nation,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Oscar winning “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — Domingo the actor can also be seen in “Candyman,” “Zola” and the upcoming “The Color Purple” musical. TV fans must know him from “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Euphoria.”
So just think how lucky we are in the Bay Area to be able to see one of his best works, which is “Dot.” The story of “Dot” is an equal mix of humor and sadness as three children come together to figure out how to deal with their mother’s dementia.
Acting-wise, universal applause to all cast members but Juanita Harris in the title role is a standout. Harris’ mood and personality change on a dime as she goes in and out of being in control of her facilities. You can see her character struggle and practically beat herself up when she realizes she is losing the battle to her illness. Harris makes this real and personal and makes Dot a character to love and care for.
Domingo’s wonderful script gives us an ensemble of various personalities all with stories to tell. But perhaps because she’s a bit extra and over the top, Brittany Nicole Sims is a scene-stealer as daughter Averie, who has many riotous comedic moments including a monologue about the importance of chitlins in black history.
Kuo-Hao Lo also needs a shout-out for his set design. While there are only two set changes, they seem real and authentic and make us feel more we are spying on a family at home, rather than seeing a play with obvious sets. Realness enhances this production.
Live stage is calling for you to visit. Why don’t you start with “Dot,” playing through April 3, 2022.
Get tickets, COVID updates and a look at future productions at www.nctcsf.org.