Even its title vibrates vertiginously with layers of meaning. Most literally, “White Noise,” Suzan-Lori Parks’s enthrallingly thought-packed new play at the Public Theater, refers to the whoosh generated by those much-used, soothing sound makers designed to lull people to sleep.
Such a device, we learn early in this astringent and eloquent work from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Topdog/Underdog,” was a gift to an insomniac in his 30s named Leo (a smashing Daveed Diggs), who hasn’t had a good night’s rest since he was 5.
It worked. It also backfired, to the point that this anxious young artist stopped making art. Blessed unconsciousness, it appears, is not a state that Leo can afford to be in it right now.
Nor, it seems, can any American, not when it comes to dealing with people of other skin colors. That’s true even — no, especially — of those who pride themselves on their comfort with interracial relationships. Like the two couples at the center of Ms. Parks’s play, which opened on Wednesday and has been directed with a radiant clarity by Oskar Eustis.
The insulation of “White Noise” — and, yes, it’s a pun, though not one to which its author calls attention — is what we wrap ourselves in to get through the day, to get along with others and to keep from hearing the lies that we live by. “Woke” acquires a whole new resonance here, and it is a state of awareness that scalds.
Every time Ms. Parks writes a play, she seems to come up with a brand-new genre. During the past several decades, her staged works have embraced symbolist fever dreams (“The Death of the Last Black Man…”), Brechtian fables (“In the Blood”) and Homeric epics (“Father Comes Home From the Wars”).
These productions all considered, in different voices, American slavery as an enduringly enslaving legacy. In their experimental form and explosive content, they anticipated the rich influx of imaginative works in recent years by writers like Jackie Sibblies Drury (“Fairview”) and Jeremy O. Harris (“Slave Play”).
Now Ms. Parks is surprising New York audiences once again, by writing what at first appears to be her slickest, most conventional play to date. On the surface, much of “White Noise” has the bantering feel of a comedy of manners, in which two couples are configured into different combinations.
These would be Leo and Dawn (Zoë Winters), a lawyer, and their closest of friends, Ralph (Thomas Sadoski), an English professor, and Misha (Sheria Irving), a vlogger. Embodied with consummate conviction by this superb four-member cast, they’ve all been besties since college, when Leo dated Misha and Ralph was with Dawn.
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Ralph and Leo were the school bowling champs. (Clint Ramos’s set crucially includes a bowling lane.) And the four of them were part of a rock band whose sweet signature number about mutual love (written by Ms. Parks) is heard as the show begins. Oh, and for the record, Leo and Misha are black, while Ralph and Dawn are white.
Not that this is a distinction that should need to be made these days, especially with such enlightened urban hipsters as these four, right? Yeah, right.
The friends’ carefully maintained equilibrium is shaken when Leo is roughed up by cops while taking an insomniac’s late-night walk in an affluent neighborhood. Dawn, a defense lawyer who proudly defines herself as “one of the good guys,” wants Leo to sue the police. “You need lots of justice,” she says with maternal solicitude, as if justice were a group hug.
But Leo has another idea. (A necessary spoiler follows.) He wants Ralph — who has inherited big money from his unloving father, a bowling alley magnate — to buy him. That’s right. Leo wants to be purchased as Ralph’s personal slave, for 40 days, at a price of ,000. (That covers Leo’s credit card debt and college loans.) It’s a way for Leo to explore his heritage and his anger, and a means of “showing the world how far we’ve not come.”
This sounds like the sort of desperate gimmick that might be used in the final season of a trendy sitcom. But you may remember that 17 years ago, Edward Albee introduced a similarly audacious trope in “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” which turned the comedy of infidelity into Greek tragedy by having a happily married man fall in love with the four-legged title character.
Ms. Parks doesn’t have Albee’s sure hand with traditional plotting. She uses credibility-taxing short cuts to hasten the collisions among her characters. (Would The New Yorker really buy, edit and publish a short story from an unknown writer within a period of a few weeks?)
But she — and Mr. Eustis’s production — sustain a poker face that accepts such contrivances as part of a marginally heightened reality that nudges the everyday into the logically surreal. The production’s design team — which also includes Toni-Leslie James (costumes), Xavier Pierce (lighting) and Dan Moses Schreier (sound) — has a bright, almost clinical clarity, which occasionally shades into distorting static.
Any annoyance I felt with Ms. Parks’s plot contrivances was erased by the thrill of the play’s uncompromising revelations of character. For Ms. Parks isn’t just confirming the familiar observation that if you scratch the surface of a liberal, you’ll find a racist.
What motivates the characters here is so much more complex and contradictory. The paradoxical essence of these people, stripped to their raw cores, is shaped not just by History with a capital H, but by the individualizing specifics of growing up in a particular home, with particular parents at a particular moment in time.
These far-reaching back stories persuasively inform how the characters interact with one another. (Only a rushed scene between the two women, which segues from affection to antagonism, feels unnatural.) But it’s the self-portraits they paint, through four ravishing monologues, that give this production its pulsing heart.
Each performer has one, delivered with a devastating transparency that exposes the bad faith behind liberal righteousness, the anger behind glib irony, the id beneath the self-consciousness. Dawn, the daughter of psychiatrists, locates the immorality within her seemingly moral legal work. Perception, she suggests, is everything — and nothing.
Misha, the daughter of two female academics, has adopted a homegirl persona for her live streaming advice show, “Ask a Black.” (As she puts it, “I dial up the Ebonics.”) The jocular, supportive Ralph seethes with a resentment that cuts in any number of directions and eventually leads him into an ungodly sanctuary of like-minded men.
As for Leo, his insomnia is an existential condition, with atavistic roots, and though it’s possibly fatal it is also necessary. And in a breakout performance as a dramatic star, Mr. Diggs — best known as a jaunty Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton” — shows an aching emotional openness here that conveys the harsh and heavy price of staying awake in the world of the self-anesthetized.
Though “White Noise” runs a full three hours, and skids on some of its plot twists, it doesn’t feel long. By its end, you may marvel at how many forms, faces and exploitative uses of racial identity it has covered. In her monologue, Misha says that racism is a virus.
“The workings of the virus are getting more complicated,” she continues, “and the rewards are getting more sophisticated.” She’s talking about the lucrative cultural industry that has sprung out of parsing the racial divide — the best-selling books, blogs, podcasts, videos and even plays like “White Noise.”
In burrowing deep into what one character calls “the worm hole” of how we talk — and think — about race, Ms. Parks isn’t cutting anyone any slack. Herself included.B:
【白】【水】【坐】【在】【沙】【发】【上】【发】【呆】，【她】【和】【满】【心】【都】【有】【种】【被】【这】【层】【婚】【姻】【关】【系】【给】【压】【制】【住】【了】【的】【感】【觉】，【不】【过】【满】【心】【是】【朝】【内】，【她】【确】【是】【想】【朝】【外】，【两】【个】【人】【的】【力】【是】【互】【相】【克】【制】【的】，【终】【归】【于】【还】【是】【横】【梗】【在】【他】【们】【之】【间】【最】【原】【始】【的】【问】【题】。 “【走】【了】”【满】【心】【洗】【了】【手】，【站】【在】【门】【口】，【看】【向】【白】【水】【叫】【她】【起】【身】【走】【了】。 【白】【水】【处】【于】【游】【魂】【状】【态】，【她】【想】【撕】【裂】【自】【己】【内】【心】【的】【另】【一】【个】【自】【己】，【她】【想】【获】【得】
【震】【惊】【又】【回】【到】【了】【震】【惊】，【但】【此】【刻】【她】【心】【里】【更】【加】【愤】【怒】。【那】【表】【情】，【真】【希】【望】【我】【能】【把】**【撕】【成】【碎】【片】。“【我】【没】【搞】【错】。【当】【我】【和】【紫】【蛇】【女】【打】【架】【的】【时】【候】，【那】【个】【男】【孩】【刚】【从】【早】【期】【突】【破】【到】【中】【期】？” “【世】【界】【上】【怎】【么】【会】【有】【这】【样】【的】【奇】【迹】【呢】？” “【在】【战】【斗】【中】【突】【围】，【开】【什】【么】【玩】【笑】？” 【其】【他】【四】【位】【五】【代】【半】【王】【权】【贵】【注】【意】【到】【紫】【蛇】【老】【太】【太】【的】【情】【况】，【露】【出】【惊】【讶】【的】【神】【色】。
“【妈】，”【洛】【寒】【清】【语】【气】【里】【是】【深】【深】【的】【无】【奈】，“【以】【后】【不】【要】【做】【这】【种】【事】【情】【了】，【好】【好】【的】【把】【自】【己】【弄】【得】【像】【个】【反】【派】【一】【样】。” “【哎】【呀】，【反】【派】【就】【反】【派】【了】，【告】【诉】【妈】【成】【功】【了】【没】【有】，【一】【定】【成】【功】【了】【吧】。”【君】【明】【珠】【对】【于】【自】【己】【的】【儿】【子】【把】【自】【己】【叫】【做】【反】【派】【这】【一】【件】【事】【情】【毫】【不】【在】【意】。 【洛】【寒】【清】【又】【叹】【了】【一】【口】【气】，【最】【后】【还】【是】【点】【了】【点】【头】。 “【妈】【去】【让】【人】【做】【些】【补】【身】【子】【的】【粥】东方心经马报77【而】【皇】【后】【听】【此】，【原】【本】【严】【肃】【的】【面】【容】【瞬】【间】【柔】【和】【了】【下】【来】，【看】【着】【太】【子】【有】【些】【无】【奈】【又】【有】【些】【埋】【怨】【道】：“【你】【也】【晓】【得】【委】【屈】【了】【你】【妹】【妹】，【本】【宫】【这】【一】【生】【就】【你】【和】【长】【曦】【两】【个】【皇】【儿】，【长】【曦】【即】【是】【公】【主】，【却】【也】【是】【你】【妹】【妹】，【你】【比】【长】【曦】【年】【长】【十】【岁】，【是】【以】【父】【皇】【和】【母】【后】【多】【娇】【宠】【着】【长】【曦】，【不】【像】【对】【你】【这】【般】【严】【苛】。【长】【曦】【从】【小】【性】【子】【冷】【清】，【但】【心】【肠】【却】【是】【极】【软】【的】。【而】【那】【日】【若】【不】【是】【长】【曦】【想】【着】
“【你】【看】【他】【爸】，【老】【是】【这】【样】，【疯】【疯】【癫】【癫】【的】【成】【何】【体】【统】，【吃】【你】【的】【菜】【吧】！”【左】【梅】【又】【塞】【了】【一】【块】【排】【骨】【到】【朴】【建】【勇】【嘴】【里】。 【李】【冰】【说】：“【可】【别】【这】【么】【说】，【叔】【叔】……【不】，【爸】【爸】【很】【可】【爱】【的】。” “【他】【可】【爱】【个】【屁】，【整】【天】【烦】【死】【了】！” 【朴】【京】【有】【些】【难】【过】，【说】：“【妈】，【你】【别】【这】【么】【说】【爸】。” “【我】【就】【说】【他】【了】，【当】【初】【要】【是】【早】【些】【退】【出】【股】【市】【这】【个】【泥】【塘】，【也】【不】【会】【把】
“【哥】【恩】【男】【爵】？” 【迪】【奎】【基】【子】【爵】【抬】【起】【头】，【撇】【了】【一】【眼】【面】【前】【半】【跪】【在】【地】【上】【的】【恪】【斯】。 “【是】【的】，【大】【人】。” 【恪】【斯】【回】【答】。 “【哼】！【随】【他】【吧】，【只】【要】【没】【什】【么】【奇】【怪】【的】【举】【动】，【他】【想】【自】【称】【哥】【哥】【男】【爵】【都】【行】！” 【迪】【奎】【基】【子】【爵】【继】【续】【数】【着】【桌】【子】【上】【的】【金】【币】，【这】【是】【莱】【昂】【为】【表】【忠】【诚】，【托】【恪】【斯】【送】【来】【的】。 “【你】【说】【他】【和】【魔】【法】【师】【去】【执】【行】【任】【务】【了】，【那】【他】【们】【什】
【很】【快】【哈】【士】【奇】【他】【们】【也】【到】【了】。 【哈】【士】【奇】【兴】【冲】【冲】【的】【溜】【着】【自】【己】【的】【鹰】：“【瑶】【瑶】【姐】，【你】【看】，【我】【的】【鹰】【可】【以】【带】【我】【飞】【了】。” 【姚】【月】【怀】【着】【惊】【喜】【转】【头】【一】【看】，【哎】【呦】！【这】【飞】【的】【真】【高】！ 【小】【鹰】【吭】【哧】【吭】【哧】【的】【煽】【动】【者】【翅】【膀】【也】【只】【把】【他】【提】【起】【来】……20【公】【分】！ ……… “【你】【别】【把】【你】【的】【鹰】【累】【着】！”【姚】【月】【说】【着】【放】【出】【自】【己】【的】【小】【豹】【子】。 【小】【豹】【子】【冒】【着】【鼻】【涕】【泡】
**【听】【到】【吴】【债】【和】【投】【资】【人】【的】【质】【问】，【俏】【皮】【地】【眨】【了】【眨】【眼】【睛】，【全】【然】【看】【不】【出】【有】【一】【点】【想】【要】【回】【答】【的】【意】【思】，【而】【是】【自】【顾】【自】【地】【又】【哼】【起】【了】【歌】。 【投】【资】【人】【无】【奈】，【对】【此】【毫】【无】【办】【法】。【摇】【了】【摇】【脑】【袋】，【又】【将】【目】【光】【转】【回】【了】【吴】【债】【身】【上】。 “【你】【怎】【么】【来】【了】？” 【吴】【债】【摊】【手】【耸】【肩】，【以】【目】【光】【指】【向】**，【道】： “【我】【也】【不】【想】【来】【的】，【不】【过】【我】【抢】【了】【她】【一】【次】【审】【判】【的】【机】【会】，