With all the theater out there, how inspiring it is to be reminded how invigorating an Off Broadway play can be with just two appealing performers, compelling music and a searching, intelligent script. Lenelle Mose, a poet, playwright and performer, has written, composed and stars in Expatriate," a two-woman production at the Culture Project that delivers on all counts.
In the first act the play follows the best friends Claudie (Ms. Mose ) and Alphine (Karla Mosley) from childhood in the Boston projects to New York. Understated, earnest Claudie, in dreadlocks, attends Juilliard while exuberant but needy Alphine, in a glittery short dress, works briefly as a stripper and sings at jazz gigs. Though Alphine goes out with Omar, Claudie's ne'er-do-well twin, a rising hip-hop star, it's clear the women reserve their greatest support for each other.
When Omar dies, Claudie, despondent, flees to Paris, where she falls in love and moves in with a woman. Alphine follows her there, and the two find success as the singing duo Black Venus. As they struggle to define their relationship, Alphine goes solo, succumbing to the temptations of fame and substance abuse. Claudie emerges from under her shadow and finds her own inner star.