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Sexist Tinges, Plot Holes Hurt ’24 Hours to Midnite’

The pitfalls of combining the roles of playwright, producer, director and star are readily apparent in “24 Hours to Midnite,” Dominick’s dreary drama about an African American death row inmate who’s guarded by a redneck racist correctional officer named Weegie (Charles Hoyes). Sleazy sexism and plot holes override any message about race relations or the death penalty that may have been intended by this production at the Met Theatre.

Sonny (Dominick) brutally murdered an officer 10 years ago when he was only 15. While incarcerated, he killed six convicts who gang-raped him. Seemingly unable to speak and aloof from his surroundings because of a medical condition, he paces, shakes his head and, at times, falls into sudden animalistic rages.

Dominick fails to make Sonny sympathetic. The greedy father (Hugh Dane) who--hoping to collect a few thousand dollars on life insurance--asks his son to sign insurance documents, doesn’t do it. Neither does the lust for “brown sugar” that Weegie and Sonny share or their bonding when Weegie brings in a prostitute (Krista Tucker) so that Sonny doesn’t die a heterosexual virgin.

There are other themes scattered at random: Weegie balking under the authority of attractive, intelligent black women, Weegie’s marital problems, his son’s disappearance and appearance at the prison, an unconvincing prison break, slick broadcast journalists more interested in their career than the humans they interview and do-good district attorneys without a clue. These aren’t pulled together into any type of cohesive statement.

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Sonny never shows remorse or feels his mortality, making this primarily a play about the gaining of questionable manhood at the expense of humanity. Terrance Foster’s prison cell set is impressive.

*

* “24 Hours to Midnite,” Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Dark this Saturday and Sunday. Ends July 19. $15. (213) 957-1152. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.


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