Member of the Wedding.” The first is that on opening night the cast proved itself spectacular.
Margaret Avery is the award-winning actress who is perfect as Berenice the housekeeper. She plays her character with grace and sublety. Avery is a beautiful woman and effective foil for Lexi Langs, the teen spitfire who plays tomboy Frankie Addams. Also impressive was muscular Nicki Daniels in the role of the young buck, Honey Brown.
Reason two is Langs herself. This is a teen with a level of talent rarely seen hereabouts. Langs has a jillion lines which she delivers with absolute certainty. Director Patric McWilliams and Langs have fashioned a facial and body language that vividly conveys the emotional state of a lonely, passionate and mercurial kid.
“Member of the Wedding” is set in the 1940’s but it is full of the issues that dog our lives today. How do fiery youths become independent without causing some degree of havoc amongst us? How does the settled class respond to the artistic souls coming up in our hands? Across the city today one imagines that dads who saw the play last night are sitting down with their sensitive teens, making a fresh attempt to listen to their stories.
The cast has depth. Benjamin Maxey, a sixth grader with an important role, acquits himself well. As in the case of his thespian sister, Jessica Maxey, theater goers are watching him grow up on stage. Nicki Daniels commands the stage in the role of frustrated young black man yearning for fair treatment - and another reefer. Stanley Blackshire and Charity Schubert are impeccable in their supporting roles.
The Scottish Rite Temple is a venue of unusual style - like the Strand Theater, but more so - and impressive historic appointments. But the acoustics of the Temple do not aid the cast in projecting their lines. Between the acoustics and the Southern accents, the articulation of ending sounds was an audience concern on opening night. I’d suggest you get seats as close to the stage as possible to ensure full enjoyment of this absorbing drama.
Running time is some two hours, thirty minutes. On opening night there was a generous intermission at the end of act one.
Tickets are $25 and $35.
Performances: July 16, 17, 18, 19 at 7:30 p.m. and a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, July 2O.