Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Eerie Twists in Gee's Bend

Amid Athol Fugard’s Nobel Prize–worthy opus are plays about individuals on the margin of the Big Picture. In Blood Knot, Master Harold and the Boys, Sizwe Banzai Is Dead, and others, Fugard shows the cruel effects of Apartheid on people who don’t make the news and whom we wouldn’t know otherwise: in effect, the human toll taken by subhuman laws and ­creeds.

In Gee’s Bend, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder takes a Fugardian approach. The title is an all-black rural community across the Alabama River from Camden and southeast of Selma. The play follows three generations of Pettway women. While some live outside of history, Sadie jumps ­in.

Her husband Macon says she’s “41 years old and doesn’t know how the world works.” The play never gives Sadie detailed motives or rhetorical flourishes about injustice (she drinks from a “whites only” fountain, for example, because she’s “thirsty”); she instinctively reacts to oppression. In 1965, she registers to vote and joins Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 600 marchers on their way from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest voting rights and the shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Six blocks from the starting point, state troopers turned on the crowd with billy clubs and tear gas. The assault came to be known as “Bloody ­Sunday.”

In Gee’s Bend’s most powerful scene, Sadie returns from “Bloody Sunday” late at night. Beaten and nearly blind from tear gas, she drags herself to the door, only to find that her husband — who ordered her not to go, or else — locked her out. To Macon, “a vote out there” means “no vote in ­here.”

At the North Coast Rep, Monique Gaffney makes this scene unforgettable. Doubly rejected — by the world and her husband — Sadie crumbles on the hardwood porch. “They beat me,” she shouts to deaf ears. Sadie’s been chopped — not just cut — adrift, with no mooring anywhere. A lesser actor would milk the scene. Gaffney doesn’t; she lives it, eloquently releasing the shock of lost innocence, the pain of separation, and the glimmer of a resolve never to let this happen ­again.

Nothing else in Gee’s Bend comes close to this scene. The play’s epic sweep — from 1939 to 2002 — thins it out. The script feels padded, in fact, as if it began as a 90-minute sprint and the playwright decided to tack on more. The third section, set in 2002, feels like a long, languid ­denouement.

A motif that needs more emphasis: the women aren’t Fugardian unknowns. They’re some of the internationally acclaimed creators of the Gee’s Bend quilts — each top, pieced from discarded clothes, a personal expression of the quilter. The extraordinary abstract designs, in blazing colors, recall, among other things, the mystical “portals” of Native American rock art (a good, albeit pricey, book on the subject: Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts).

The playwright doesn’t do much with the quilts as personal expression. She may have avoided what the musical Quilters, where every patch has meaning, has done. Also, having Sadie become such a success detracts from her struggle. The dilemma, however, detracts from the ­play.

For the North Coast Rep, director Yvette Freeman uses her considerable skills to serve the story. Though little happens through long stretches, the movement is seamless. As her character, the stay-at-home Nelia, ages, Licia Shearer’s performance grows (she neither quilted nor protested, but she too had a life). Charmen Jackson shows her versatility as old Alice and young Asia. But Lawrence Brown’s Macon gets caught in a malicious turnabout. Macon’s sudden violence may be real-life true, but in the script, and Brown’s performance, it lacks ­veracity.


Just in time for Halloween: Robert Louis Stevenson’s staid Dr. Jekyll’s at Ion Theatre with his beastly counterpart, whose “appetites would insult the devil.” Actually, Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation has four Mr. Hydes, emerging from curtains, walls, and inky darkness. The actors, who scrunch and gnarl, also play upstanding citizens in the same outfits, which underlines Stevenson’s claim that we are all ­“double-minded.”

Director Kim Strassburger strikes an impressive balance between melodrama and humor. This is the funniest Jekyll and Hyde I’ve seen (especially when David McBean parodies stiff-collar Victorian rectitude or utters the word “exemplary”). At the same time, the director achieves a creepy atmosphere without straining for the ghoulish. The spare set includes a mobile door, gray on one side, red on the other, and designer Karen Filijan footlights the cast, as in old mellydramers, with a shadowy, between-worlds ­atmosphere.

Well-spoken Walter Ritter keeps the good doctor’s façade intact until, like Dorian Gray, he can no longer. Patrick Duffy, Susan Hammons, and Nick Kennedy smartly give their Hydes some less-than-monstrous touches — suggesting that the mind may not be “bifurcated” after ­all?

The playwright dumped the doctor’s bland fiancée and has the prostitute Elizabeth Jelkes fall for Hyde/Jekyll. This change allows Rachel Van Wormer (at once vulnerable and assertive) to add a telling twist: see the good in an allegedly evil ­man. ■

Gee’s Bend by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder
North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
Directed by Yvette Freeman; cast: Lawrence Brown, Monique Gaffney, Charmen Jackson, Licia Shearer; scenic design, Marty Burnett; costumes, Valerie Henderson; lighting, M. Scott Grabau; sound and projections, Chris Luessmann; musical direction, original music, Lanny Hartley
Playing through November 7; Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Matinee Saturday and Sunday at 7:00 p.m. 858-481-1055.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella by Jeffrey Hatcher
Ion Theatre, 3704 Sixth Avenue, Hillcrest
Directed by Kim Strassburger; cast: Patrick Duffy, Susan Hammons, Nick Kennedy, David McBean, Walter Ritter; scenic design, Matt Scott; costumes, Claudio Raygoza; lighting, Karin Filijan; sound, Melanie Chen
Playing through November 20; Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Matinee Saturday at 4:00 p.m. 619-600-5020.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

If sci-fi glam really makes a comeback, UNI will rule them all

Big changes for little band may put them at the head of the class of 2020
Next Article

San Diego inside sports

El Cajon Speedway, dark side of NFL, pick-up b-ball, Lakeside's Jarrod Boswell, start of Padres, SDSU football scandal

Amid Athol Fugard’s Nobel Prize–worthy opus are plays about individuals on the margin of the Big Picture. In Blood Knot, Master Harold and the Boys, Sizwe Banzai Is Dead, and others, Fugard shows the cruel effects of Apartheid on people who don’t make the news and whom we wouldn’t know otherwise: in effect, the human toll taken by subhuman laws and ­creeds.

In Gee’s Bend, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder takes a Fugardian approach. The title is an all-black rural community across the Alabama River from Camden and southeast of Selma. The play follows three generations of Pettway women. While some live outside of history, Sadie jumps ­in.

Her husband Macon says she’s “41 years old and doesn’t know how the world works.” The play never gives Sadie detailed motives or rhetorical flourishes about injustice (she drinks from a “whites only” fountain, for example, because she’s “thirsty”); she instinctively reacts to oppression. In 1965, she registers to vote and joins Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 600 marchers on their way from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest voting rights and the shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Six blocks from the starting point, state troopers turned on the crowd with billy clubs and tear gas. The assault came to be known as “Bloody ­Sunday.”

In Gee’s Bend’s most powerful scene, Sadie returns from “Bloody Sunday” late at night. Beaten and nearly blind from tear gas, she drags herself to the door, only to find that her husband — who ordered her not to go, or else — locked her out. To Macon, “a vote out there” means “no vote in ­here.”

At the North Coast Rep, Monique Gaffney makes this scene unforgettable. Doubly rejected — by the world and her husband — Sadie crumbles on the hardwood porch. “They beat me,” she shouts to deaf ears. Sadie’s been chopped — not just cut — adrift, with no mooring anywhere. A lesser actor would milk the scene. Gaffney doesn’t; she lives it, eloquently releasing the shock of lost innocence, the pain of separation, and the glimmer of a resolve never to let this happen ­again.

Nothing else in Gee’s Bend comes close to this scene. The play’s epic sweep — from 1939 to 2002 — thins it out. The script feels padded, in fact, as if it began as a 90-minute sprint and the playwright decided to tack on more. The third section, set in 2002, feels like a long, languid ­denouement.

A motif that needs more emphasis: the women aren’t Fugardian unknowns. They’re some of the internationally acclaimed creators of the Gee’s Bend quilts — each top, pieced from discarded clothes, a personal expression of the quilter. The extraordinary abstract designs, in blazing colors, recall, among other things, the mystical “portals” of Native American rock art (a good, albeit pricey, book on the subject: Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts).

The playwright doesn’t do much with the quilts as personal expression. She may have avoided what the musical Quilters, where every patch has meaning, has done. Also, having Sadie become such a success detracts from her struggle. The dilemma, however, detracts from the ­play.

For the North Coast Rep, director Yvette Freeman uses her considerable skills to serve the story. Though little happens through long stretches, the movement is seamless. As her character, the stay-at-home Nelia, ages, Licia Shearer’s performance grows (she neither quilted nor protested, but she too had a life). Charmen Jackson shows her versatility as old Alice and young Asia. But Lawrence Brown’s Macon gets caught in a malicious turnabout. Macon’s sudden violence may be real-life true, but in the script, and Brown’s performance, it lacks ­veracity.


Just in time for Halloween: Robert Louis Stevenson’s staid Dr. Jekyll’s at Ion Theatre with his beastly counterpart, whose “appetites would insult the devil.” Actually, Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation has four Mr. Hydes, emerging from curtains, walls, and inky darkness. The actors, who scrunch and gnarl, also play upstanding citizens in the same outfits, which underlines Stevenson’s claim that we are all ­“double-minded.”

Director Kim Strassburger strikes an impressive balance between melodrama and humor. This is the funniest Jekyll and Hyde I’ve seen (especially when David McBean parodies stiff-collar Victorian rectitude or utters the word “exemplary”). At the same time, the director achieves a creepy atmosphere without straining for the ghoulish. The spare set includes a mobile door, gray on one side, red on the other, and designer Karen Filijan footlights the cast, as in old mellydramers, with a shadowy, between-worlds ­atmosphere.

Well-spoken Walter Ritter keeps the good doctor’s façade intact until, like Dorian Gray, he can no longer. Patrick Duffy, Susan Hammons, and Nick Kennedy smartly give their Hydes some less-than-monstrous touches — suggesting that the mind may not be “bifurcated” after ­all?

The playwright dumped the doctor’s bland fiancée and has the prostitute Elizabeth Jelkes fall for Hyde/Jekyll. This change allows Rachel Van Wormer (at once vulnerable and assertive) to add a telling twist: see the good in an allegedly evil ­man. ■

Gee’s Bend by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder
North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
Directed by Yvette Freeman; cast: Lawrence Brown, Monique Gaffney, Charmen Jackson, Licia Shearer; scenic design, Marty Burnett; costumes, Valerie Henderson; lighting, M. Scott Grabau; sound and projections, Chris Luessmann; musical direction, original music, Lanny Hartley
Playing through November 7; Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Matinee Saturday and Sunday at 7:00 p.m. 858-481-1055.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella by Jeffrey Hatcher
Ion Theatre, 3704 Sixth Avenue, Hillcrest
Directed by Kim Strassburger; cast: Patrick Duffy, Susan Hammons, Nick Kennedy, David McBean, Walter Ritter; scenic design, Matt Scott; costumes, Claudio Raygoza; lighting, Karin Filijan; sound, Melanie Chen
Playing through November 20; Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Matinee Saturday at 4:00 p.m. 619-600-5020.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

If sci-fi glam really makes a comeback, UNI will rule them all

Big changes for little band may put them at the head of the class of 2020
Next Article

Björk Live from Reykjavik, Zoonotic Diseases of Marine Mammals

Events August 8-August 12, 2020
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close