Florida Studio Theatre’s The Miamians aims to deliver a message—but does it play?
By Kay Kipling
The melting pot of America is the topic of playwright Michael McKeever’s latest, The Miamians, onstage at Florida Studio Theatre. It’s a sometimes successful, sometimes unconvincing look at three separate families in an ever-changing Miami.
As might be expected in that particular melting pot, the families are Cuban-American, African-American and Jewish. There’s an aging Jewish man (Jon Kohler) with a gay son (Matthew DeCapua) who has a black partner (Kenajuan Bentley) who has a hard-driving civil rights attorney for a sister (Laquayva Anthony) who happens to butt heads with a city development consultant (David Perez-Ribada) who himself has a cancer-stricken mother (Marina Re). Sounds a bit like a circle game, doesn’t it? These people all interact in ways that feel concocted at times, and their dialogue often feels too scripted, especially at the beginning of the evening.
There’s more real heart in some of the characters’ monologues, which explain how they came to be where they are and reveal the individual importance of family heritage and history in their lives. Certainly McKeever’s play is well-intentioned in driving us toward the notion that, while change is inevitable, we can all still hold on to the things that matter to us most, passing them down from generation to generation.
But I wish that his characters felt more specific and less stock, a little less deliberately representative of the points he’s making. There could be more art and less of an agenda in The Miamians, which too often gets us emotionally involved and then stops us dead in our tracks with an artificial-sounding speech.
The Miamians continues through May 24 at FST; call 366-9000 or go to floridastudiotheatre.org for tickets.