X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation by Marcus Gardley is not only a portrait of Malcolm X, the optimistic and eloquent civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1965, but also of a dangerous and tumultuous time. In Gardley's play, time and place dissolve from one scene into another—a courtroom, the home of Malcolm (poignantly played by Jimmon Cole) and his wife, Betty Shabazz (Obie winner Roslyn Ruff), as well as the street; an office; and the home of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam. In all the scenes Gardley focuses on a question that dominates the court: who killed Malcolm X?
Decades after his death, Robert Moses’s legacy is still felt throughout New York City, from the Triborough Bridge to Lincoln Center. As the urban planner responsible for much of the city’s 20th-century roadways and infrastructure projects, Moses had a polarizing career, making lasting improvements to the city and the surrounding area even as he was criticized for imposing his plans, no matter the consequences. New Yorkers traveling through Moses’s former domain to the Theatre at St. Clements, however, will find little unique insight into the man behind the infrastructure at Bulldozer: The Ballad of Robert Moses, a bio-musical of the master builder who outlasted mayors and governors to impose his will on New York City and the surrounding area from the 1920s through the 1960s.
The advertising campaign for Come Light My Cigarette promises a “suspenseful” evening and features a photo of Erikka Walsh gotten up in Sam Spade trench coat and fedora. Indeed, there’s mystery about this mildly noir-ish musical, written and directed by Arnold L. Cohen; but what’s offstage is more provocative than what’s visible in the auditorium of the Theatre at St. Clement’s.