Friday, January 15, 2010

Company One's The Good Negro is outstanding, but...

Opening night of Company One's production at the BCA's Plaza Theater of The Good Negro was simply rock solid.

Okay, full disclosures here: I auditioned for the show and actually got a callback, the closest I've come to working for this stellar production company. Right now in Boston, I don't know one actor who doesn't want to work for them. So, my lauding may be taken for simply sucking up for the next audition, right?

Oh c'mon. You guys know me better than that. Keep reading please.

First, I love the script. Loved it from the first time I read it and couldn't put it down. It's everything I like in a script. Social conscious set against a real historical moment, in this case the civil rights movement, taking place in the South, specifically, Birmingham, Alabama in 1962. It's fast-paced, highly emotionally charged, with layers of good and evil. I mean, check out the title. There are really sweet moments in the script that shows that playwright Tracey Scott Wilson is fully in charge, like the scene at the end of the play when Pelzie, the one character who speaks in Southern country--to the point where sometimes you're sitting there thinking, what the heck did he just say?--the one character who isn't allowed to speak at rallies, the one black character who isn't articulate and in charge in some way, explains what it means to be good. Explains to the Rev. Lawrence, the MLK-like character, what he has to do to fight segregation. Such a sweet, sweet scene. And by the way, James Milord just nails that scene.

Every character is nicely delineated to compose an ensemble, and every actor has done such a wonderful job developing his and her character, living in the characters' skins, so that when the characters are working side by side each is illuminated not only by the actor playing the character, but the other actors on stage. It is so great to see something like that on stage.

And I can't bring myself to highlight one actor over the other. It's enough to say that it's a wonderful ensemble I saw tonight, one that kept the super-charged pace of the show going, going, and going, without letup. It was opening night, so unless an asteroid hits the earth in the next four weeks, this show is only going to get better.


I can't not mention this; it was too noticable and irritating. The show is presented in the BCA's Plaza Theater. Kind of a a weird space, with seats sort of wrapping around the stage in a thrust. There are also two big support posts you have to deal with as a director and set designer. I was sitting far house left. One seat away from as far house left as you could get, and basically I watched the entire play with the actors backs to me, or else they were lined up so that the actor nearest me was blocking the far stage actor and I didn't see that other actor at all.

Okay, I got comps to the show. I can't expect free tickets down center. (Wait, yes I can; that's where I sat for Fences.) Anyway, tomorrow night, a paying customer is going to be sitting in that seat, and is going to be severely cheated. Basically the entire show is blocked for the audience straight out and on the corners. Any actor who has worked on that stage (me, for instance) is constantly reminded by the director to remember the right and left seats. That is a collossal bummer.

So, in the end, it's an amazing production that's only going to get better. The actors and crew should all be so proud, and hopefully they're all toasting themselves tonight. But if you go, and particularly if you're paying the full price of $33, make sure you sit center or near center.


blog nerd said...

Did they know where it was going to be performed when it was in rehearsal? Sounds like the director directed it for proscenium instead of thrust.

Action Bob Markle said...

yeah, they knew...i kept thinking to myself during certain scenes if they had just been moved farther upstage instead of playing so far downstage, it would have made a huge difference...ahh, they don't call 'em the cheap seats for nothin'...

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