Lift, a play about a man and a woman stuck in an elevator after a terrorist attack, is written by Walter Mosley, who has had three decades of success as a novelist, especially with the Easy Rawlin mysteries, such as Devil in a Blue Dress, which was made into a movie starring Denzel Washington. Although he is new to playwriting, one expects from a Mosley play three things — suspense, surprise, and an African-American perspective. One doesn’t expect tedium.
Theodore (Biko Eisen-Martin) and Tina (MaameYaa Boafo) don’t know each other, although they work in the same corporation, when they are trapped together in the elevator’s skyscraper. But they have plenty of time to learn about one another. Theodore is an executive, who was first brought on board because his skills as a basketball player would help the corporate team. Tina is an African-born daughter of privilege, who graduated from Princeton. Each as it turns out has a dark secret, which they’ve never told anybody before.
There is much that’s intriguing about these characters, their wary and intensifying interaction holds our attention for a time, and their predicament is even a fitting metaphor for the stalled rise of black people in America. But there are too many missteps in Lift, from pointless ancillary characters to plot holes to pacing to length – 120 minutes over two acts! Perhaps Mosley can use these characters again in a different story.
at 59E59 Theaters
By Walter Mosley
Directed by Marshall Jones, III
Lighting and projections design by Rocco Disanti, costume design b yAnne E Grosz, scenic design by Andrei Onegin, sound design by Toussaint Hunt
Cast: MaameYaa Boafo, Shavonna Banks, Biko Eisen-Martin, Martin Kushner
Lift is scheduled to run until November 30th.