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'Our Lady of 121st Street' review: A cast of real characters

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, left, Hill Harper and Dierdre

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, left, Hill Harper and Dierdre Friel are among the assortment of offbeat characters in "Our Lady of 121st Street." Credit: Monique Carboni

WHAT "Our Lady of 121st Street"

WHERE Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

INFO $30; 212-244-7529, signaturetheatre.org

BOTTOM LINE An entertaining study of some crazy, mixed-up characters.

"Sister Rose was a good woman," says one of the many former students who've come back to their Harlem neighborhood to grieve her passing. But a problem becomes all too apparent in the early moments of "Our Lady of 121st Street," the entertaining Stephen Adly Guirgis dark comedy now at Signature Theatre. Her body's been stolen (along with the trousers of one of the mourners). 

While they wait for the return of their beloved teacher (not going to happen, by the way), there's not much to do but rehash old beefs and start some new ones, which we see in brief scenes that director Phylicia Rashad keeps moving right along. Among others, we meet Hollywood DJ Rooftop (Hill Harper), who's flown cross-country only to get into it with his ex Inez (Quincy Tyler Bernstine), who's already had it out with Norca (Paola Lázaro), the foul-mouthed bad girl who slept with Rooftop. There's a morose detective, a priest who may be losing his faith, a gay couple fighting over public displays of affection, and so on.

Guirgis, who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for "Between Riverside and Crazy," offers no resolution whatsoever. This is a character study, pure and simple. And what an odd assortment of crazy, mixed-up characters he has given us. 

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