June 29th, 2011, 3:45 pm by Sara
June 29th, 2011, 3:30 pm by Sara
Myra Lucretia Taylor in "Going To St. Ives" @ Barrington Stage Company. (Photo by Scott Barrow)
Lee Blessing’s plays are built on the concept of two people exploring troublesome questions. In his best known play A Walk in the Woods, it was nuclear disarmament and global politics. In Going to St. Ives at Barrington Stage Company, the subject turns to colonialism and the brutal carnage of politics in Africa, raising troubling questions about morality, politics and personal responsibility. It is an intellectual night out with big and troubling issues.
You could say that Blessing is an explorer. He writes small plays around big ideas. These works often take unusual routes to get to their heart, but after seeing one of his works, Going to St. Ives for example, you find yourself understanding some aspect of the world a while lot better. You could summarize this play as the tale of two mothers who conspire to kill one of their sons. But that would miss the whole point.
That Barrington Stage has undertaken another of Blessing’s works (BSC did Black Sheep in Sheffield in 2002) is not surprising. He is a brilliant expository writer whose works exude dramatic flair along with the clash of ideas.
Click to read the rest of this story at Berkshire on Stage.
Gretchen Egolf and Myra Lucretia Taylor in "Going to St. Ives" @ Barrington Stage Company (photos by Scott Barrow)
Before the curtain Julianne Boyd, Artistic Director of Barrington Stage, was joking with the press about the dramatic difference between this serious piece and the fluffy fun of Guys and Dolls on the BSC Main Stage. A well balanced summer season should have chances for both light-hearted frivolity and thought-provoking drama, and Boyd has cleverly built an audience for with solid productions like Freud’s Last Session and The Whipping Man which tackled important issues like religion and race relations.
Going to St. Ives isn’t quite as good of a play as those two – it is more of a tell than a show – but under the direction of Tyler Marchant, with a gripping performance by Myra Lucretia Taylor, it is moving and provocative and well worth seeing. Americans as a rule do not think globally, and tend to ignore entire continents such as South America and Africa. Playwright Lee Blessing uses the universal emotions of motherhood to bring us face-to-face with important international issues.
The play consists of three encounters between Dr. Cora Gage (Gretchen Egolf), a white British eye surgeon of international renown, and May N’Kame (Taylor), the black mother of a despotic African dictator who needs her care. The two scenes of the first act are set at Cora’s home in St. Ives, a small village close to Cambridge, England. The last act takes place at the home in Africa where May is under house arrest. Blessing is very careful not to name the African nation which May’s son rules. In fact he himself is given no first name. In the last scene his face has been obscured on the political posters projected on the semi-circular wall at the back of Brian Prather’s spare set.
Click to read the rest of this story at GailSez.