Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gem of the Ocean - Seattle Repertory Theatre

Gem of the Ocean
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Ticekts and Information
April 11 - May 6, 2007

August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays chronicle African-American history in the United States from 1904 through 1990. Gem of the Ocean begins August Wilson’s Cycle, chronicling 1904, and ends the run of his complete works at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Relating the story of several members of the Hill District of Pittsburgh, 1904, Gem of the Ocean gives the audience a glance into the freshly post-Civil War times in the United States through the eyes of the still-oppressed African Americans. When a young man named Citizen appears on the scene, Aunt Ester and her friends help him to find the City of Bones, a mystical place where freedom is the only reigning law.

Directed by Phylicia Rashad, best known for her roles as Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show and Ruth Lucas on Cosby, this performance pulls forth every ounce of energy the actors can muster and then some. Aided by a phenomenal cast of incredibly strong actors, Rashad provides a dazzling show. The precision of every moment and the naturalism of each character give Gem of the Ocean the uncanny and ever-coveted ability to draw each audience member into its folds for its full three hours.

(L-R) Michele Shay, Khalil Kain, Allie Woods. Photo by Chris Bennion 2007

Allen Lee Hughes’ lighting design, enhanced by John Lacovelli’s scenic design, brought the play to life even further. The gentle changes and painted picturesque designs lend the production a touch of magic throughout the entire performance. Additionally, Kathryn Bostic’s composition and arrangement of the music provides an incredibly apropos mood to the production. The simultaneous simplicity and complexity of the pieces add dramatically to the feeling of the show.

Completing Seattle Repertory Theatre’s productions of August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays, Gem of the Ocean not only encapsulates the feeling of the Cycle, but also draws the Rep’s season to a close. Not overly labored yet poignant in purpose, Gem of the Ocean will draw each member of every audience into its simple magic and mystic naturalism.

Review by Nigel Andrews and Rick Skyler

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