I highly recommend this adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel, by Lydia R. Diamond, that started off Black History Month in Hollywood with a bang. Nobel winning author Morrison, after working on a short story about a little black girl who wanted blue eyes, wrote the book in 1965, based on a girl she’d known growing up in Ohio. By the time the book came out 5 years later she was an editor at Random House that went on to publish all her future novels.
The story unfolds through the narrative of two young and playful sisters, Claudia (Briana Price) and Frieda (ReSheda Terry). Their mother temporarily takes in their playmate, Pecola (Rodnesha Green), who the neighbors have deemed ‘ugly.’ It's with their watching eyes that we see the sorrows, hopes, fears and racial bias that dictate the flavor of all their lives.
This ensemble of talented women and men brought to life the acerbic nature of humanity in the 1940's along with the consequences of personal choices. Director, Bernadette Speakes and choreographer Shari Rhone, used lively dance and soul touching songs in perfect intervals. The show is creative and masterful - from the set design to the costumes.
Initially I was taken aback when the two lead actors changed from their child character voices and demeanor to take on an adult tone as they faced the audience to tell the story. But the candidness with which these words were spoken added a deeper layer of honesty a child may not have been able to express
This haunting play does not shrink from stirring up the audience and cutting a hole in one's heart to expose the soft or hard (as the case may be) inner core. The actors seemed to know instinctively how to pull the marrow out of the characters they were cast to portray. The precision and purpose in which the characters entered and exited the stage made the two hours of uninterrupted performance fly. While the tenor of the play is drama, humor is plentiful.
An All the Way West Production at the Hudson BackstageTheatre, Hollywood.