Pipeline ***

By: David Sheward

July 30, 2017: Theatergoers may feel as if they are back in high school when they enter Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse venue for Pipeline, Dominique Morisseau’s searing close-up of the public school system and its failure to serve minority youth. Set designer Matt Saunders has transformed the back wall of the intimate space into a blank white cement canvas not unlike the drab interior of an urban hall of learning. As the play begins, Justin Ellington’s jarring soundscape and Hannah Wasileski’s video projections take us inside a bleak secondary institution where the main character Nya, an African-American English Language Arts teacher, is slowly unravelling as her son Omari struggles to stay afloat at a private school upstate. Though there are moments of melodrama, Morisseau delivers a piercing and powerful indictment of educational breakdown.