Friday, January 22, 2010

New Feature? Theatre Moment of the Week


So, maybe I'll start a new little feature in which I talk about a moment in a currently running production that seemed to stand out for some reason or other.

This week comes from Company One's production of Tracey Scott Wilson's The Good Negro, which is playing at the BCA Plaza Theatre.

The play is a semi-fictionalized account of Doctor Martin Luther King's struggles in Birmingham. If you know the history of King, you'll know that there were struggles with infidelity, and playwright Tracy Scott Wilson doesn't shy away from those issues, (although somebody could contend that by "fictionalizing" King, Wilson is shying away.)

At a crucial moment of the play, in a very intimate moment, The Reverend James Lawrence, played by Jonathan L. Dent, confides in his close associate, Pastor Henry Evans. (Dent is foreground in the above photo, Cliff Odle plays Evans.)

The unspoken issue at hand is philandering and adultery. With a stillness and focus we don't see on stage much anymore, Rev. Lawrence asks his friend, "Why can't I stop?"

With the whole world watching, this man knows he needs to be beyond reproach - he needs to fly straight. But he is feeling helpless in the face of his...what? Desires, addictions, narcissism, egotism? All of the above?

The play is full gear at this moment. It is a quiet beat, but a moment of self-realization and struggle that one could imagine an intelligent and soulful leader like King actually having.

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