The message is chilling, the actors excellent and the set clever. Yet "The Submission" takes itself so seriously it gets to be a bit much.
Danny (Jonathan Groff, "Spring Awakening") is a playwright, albeit a frustrated, unproduced playwright. He writes a play from the vantage point of a black kid from the projects, who is card shark.
The issue here is that he submits his work to the Humana Festival under a fake name, an African-American woman's name. This work, according to all of the characters, is excellent. It's accepted to be produced, and therein is Danny's problem.
Danny has many problems. First, he shows the play to a pal, Trevor (Will Rogers), before he gives a copy to his partner, Pete (Eddie Kaye Thomas). This slight causes the first fight of an evening fraught with them. Then Danny hires an African-American actress, Emilie (Rutina Wesley, "True Blood"), to represent him as the playwright at the festival.
When they meet, Danny explains how he picked Emilie.
"I looked through some old Playbills. I saved them all because I am very gay," he says.
"So you want to play some 'Freaky Friday' sh** with me?" she asks.
And so Emilie attends the meetings, sits in on casting decisions and does what the real playwright would, if he could -- had Danny not lied about his gender and race. As Danny deals ungracefully and angrily with his deception, Emilie and Trevor fall in love.
Danny and Pete are in love, but ultimately Danny is such a jerk, such an embittered, angry white man, it is impossible for anyone to stay in love with him.
Yet Thomas -- known to TV viewers from "How to Make it in America" and "'Til Death" -- gives a wonderfully droll performance as Pete. He tries to keep the peace, and forgives Danny until Danny becomes unforgivable.
Much of this broadcasts from the beginning and much of it we do know. At least we should. It never hurts to be reminded that any kind of bigotry is wrong, but it can get tiresome if ideas are repeated too often.
Photo/Video credit: Joan Marcus
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