OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
A wicked comedy of the workplace, “Rasheeda Speaking” studies two middle-aged women whose relationship evolves from edgy to worse.
An enjoyable New York premiere by The New Group, Chicago writer Joel Drake Johnson’s new play features two formidable artists, Tonya Pinkins and Dianne Wiest, duking it out as office co-workers whose unfair fight raises prickly issues of racial mistrust and prejudice.
The story transpires over several days in a surgeon’s office, where Jaclyn (Pinkins), who is black, and Ileen (Wiest), who is white, are secretaries at adjacent desks. Their boss, Dr. Williams, is dissatisfied with Jaclyn’s performance. He instructs the reluctant Ileen to maintain a log of Jaclyn’s shortcomings in order to transfer her to a different department of the medical center.
A cranky lady with an elaborately braided hairdo, Jaclyn fusses about toxins in the air and harmful rays from the computer. Her manner with patients is brusque and her tasking ways are spotty.