Plan-B Theatre’s Premiere of ‘The Clean-Up Project’ is a Shocking Conversation about Race


Latoya Cameron and Cameron Beck in “The Clean-Up Project” premiering at Plan-B Theatre (Photo Credit Sharah Meservy)

By Hannah Keating, Arts Editor


In the world premiere of Carleton Bluford’s “The Clean-Up Project,” Plan-B Theatre opens their 2022 season during Black History Month with a glaring and intimate look at racism in an America not too far from our own.

“The Clean-Up Project” is the first production slated in Plan-B’s 2022 Subscription Series: “In Person. In Color.” Playwright Bluford assisted the company’s Artistic Director Jerry Rapier in directing the production, set in a dystopian near-future where Black people have taken control of the United States. Their new leader, backed by the militant Obsidian Order, has enacted the titular Clean-Up Project, outlining the eradication of white Americans. 

We meet a Black couple, Jordan (Latoya Cameron) and Melvin (Chris Curlett), who have been off-the-grid, nearly quarantining themselves from the political unrest outside, until their white neighbors Ryan (Matthew Sincell) and Taylor (Sarah Walker) show up at their door seeking refuge. When members of the Order — both a familiar face in the old friend Cameron (Calbert Beck) and a strange one in the commanding Chris (Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin) — arrive to recruit Jordan and Melvin, Bluford’s script launches into a complicated and raw conversation about race and power. 

Powerful Dialogue in a Non-Stop Production

The show’s concept feels dangerous at first glance — a pipe-dream argument that Fox News pundits might make for “reverse racism” — but Bluford’s poignant reversals of power structures are rooted in societal reality. The script emerged from the writer’s own journal, incorporating anger over the violence and racism Black people in the U.S. have experienced in the past several years, and throughout our entire history. 

Especially during Black History Month, a play whose dialogue centers on justice, retribution, power and oppression like this is so captivating. The dissection of the characters’ opposing philosophies is heightened by the air of violence and chaos that surrounds this world. It is gritty, ugly, exposing, but truthful and impactful. 

The entire cast is entirely invested in this literal life-or-death situation, and expertly conveys the complex speeches Bluford handed every character. Cameron as Jordan is a master at navigating the emotional highs and lows of the weighty scenario and, like her character, bridges this gap with nuance. All act as foils to one another — Beck and Darby-Duffin go toe-to-toe with Sincell and Walker, Walker and Cameron discuss patriarchal influences, and so on — in this conversation where there are no truly right, truly ethical, truly just opinions. 

Staged in the Rose Wagner’s Black Box Theater, the limited and intimate seating aided the performance, but the minimalistic and amorphous environment occasionally detracted from the power of the text. Design-wise, the subtle shifts in lighting were the most significant element — the soft, changing illumination of the television in contrast to the four swinging bulbs overhead.

The cast of “The Clean-Up Project” at Plan-B Theatre (Photo Credit Sharah Meservy)

Holds You Until the Very End

In its conclusion, “The Clean-Up Project” is unlike any show I have ever seen. Without spoiling the intense ending that Rapier and Bluford shaped, the energy in the space as the lights were dimmed felt chilling, but somehow sacred, as Duffin read the names of dozens on dozens of innocent, murdered BIPOC individuals. Suddenly, the dystopian America of the script comes screaming to a halt. The people, the audience, have the right to vote on what comes next. 

Time stood still. I could feel the people around me breathing heavier, hearts pounding in indecisive rhythm. Following our verdict, never in my life have I seen an audience sit in wait that long after the actors had left the stage, no one daring to disrupt the silence, before erupting into applause.


The mastery of “The Clean-Up Project” is its use and transformation of fear. It doesn’t contain jump scares or any psychological thrills, but it introduces people with privilege in today’s social norms to the fear that others feel on a daily basis. While it takes a minute to settle into its journey, this production is unlike any, and well worth the attention. You can’t miss “The Clean-Up Project.”

With the limited seating, Plan-B’s in-person run is sold out. There is a waitlist for in-person seats, but streaming tickets are available and can be found on their website.


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