Theater: The truth about ‘Luce’

This is not a typical PTA meeting. Credit: Jeremy Daniel
This is not a typical PTA meeting.
Credit: Jeremy Daniel

“Luce,” at Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theater, is anything but. In fact, JC Lee’s drama is about as tight as they come, as its cast relentlessly pursues the truth about its title character. But the play is unflinching in its refusal to reveal Luce’s (Okieriete Onaodowan) real nature. Compactly written and tautly directed, its 90 minutes fly by with mesmerizing intensity.

Adopted by white parents in the U.S. after his birth parents died in Africa, Luce is both a star athlete and a stellar student, a perfect role model according to his teacher, Ms. Carter (Sharon Washington).  Then he writes an incendiary essay, which leads Carter to search his locker, where she finds high voltage fireworks. She asks his mother, Amy (Marin Hinkle), to talk to him.

Luce says the fireworks belong to a friend. Amy and her husband Peter (the only underwritten role, played by Neal Huff) want to believe him, but it’s not easy. Amy talks to his former girlfriend (Olivia Oguma) and gets more ambiguous, disturbing information.

The beauty of “Luce” is its mystery. Who is Luce, anyway? The audience is in the same place as his parents; we don’t know if he’s a smooth serial liar or a regular teenager misinterpreted by an uptight teacher.

Lee builds the tension organically, as the various characters confront each other and come away with no clearer understanding of Luce’s essence. The cast is thrillingly focused; portrayals are bulls-eye specific. Onaodowan is perfect as the nonchalant overachiever who’s casually charming, perhaps too casually charming.  The facts — to the extent there are facts — seem to conspire against him, but there’s always a lingering doubt.

If you go

‘Luce’
Through Nov. 17
Claire Tow Theater
150 W. 65th St.
$20, 212-239-6200
www.lct3.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.