Fake cicada noises introduce Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, a graceless drama of three Arkansas-raised siblings and their in-laws squabbling over the ruined estate of their recently-departed father. Fights with nasty words in the first act become physicalized in the second, a farcical battle royal of no import—stop me if you’ve heard this one.
This play’s Belle Rive is a plaster-shedding failed bed and breakfast; the legacy of the three children—Toni, Franz, Bo, and rebarbative every one—is a pile of debts and some quite disturbing Jim Crow-era artifacts. The only character who is in any way grounded is Franz’s fiancée River (Caitlin McColl), and even she is called upon to unnaturally overreact to her discovery of a nearby graveyard and to misunderstand her boyfriend’s past dalliances with minors—until a convenient turning point in the plot.
“Oh my God! What am I doing here?” one character cries in the course of the evening. Indeed.
- Appropriate, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, directed by Liesl Tommy, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington