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At The Red Room, ‘Lines’ Tangles With Race, Religion, and Football

Emily Bennett, Jeff Sproul, Annelise Rains, & John Hardin Photo by KL ThomasK.L. ThomasEmily Bennett, Jeff Sproul, Annelise Rains and John Hardin in The Horse Trade Theatre Group’s “Lines”

When was the last time you went to a play where you were asked to sign a petition to release a political prisoner before getting to your seat? “The play deals with human rights, so it makes sense that we would be here,” the woman from Amnesty International explained to me. “The script is very powerful.” With these words and director Heidi Grumelot’s introduction emphasizing the play’s interest in social justice, “Lines” was framed: I was ready to have my mind blown by some political theater.

And yet, if I hadn’t been told the play was about human rights, I’m not sure I would have known.

“Lines” is set in an imaginary country where an actual line has been drawn, segregating blacks from whites. On one side of the line is white funeral director Doc; on the other is Bullet, a black football coach. Their lives get intertwined in scandal when a young black man, Keys, dies on the “white” side. Doc’s decision to bury Keys, which breaks the town’s segregation laws, leads to a series of mix-ups and subplots — some funny, some somber. Read more…