Ma Rainey's Black Bottom TRTC 9-16 197 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, by August Wilson Two River Theatre Company 9/9/16 Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson Scenic Design: Charlie Corcoran Costume Designer: Karen Perry Lighting Designer: Burke Brown © T Charles Erickson Photography

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom © T Charles Erickson Photography


August Wilson, Neil LaBute and Horton Foote; I get to see works by three of my favorite playwrights this month!  First up is August Wilson’s MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM at Two River Theater, Red Bank, NJ.  Ruben Santiago-Hudson has directed a superb, thrilling production of one of August Wilson’s finest plays.

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM takes place at a sound studio in 1927 Chicago, where Ma Rainey and her band are recording some new songs in a style that is popular in the African-American community, for a Caucasian owned Record label. Although the topic of the play is race, the story is not black and white (sorry).  The characters are drawn so beautifully and performed so skillfully that no one is a cliche, there are no easy solutions.

August Wilson was a poet; his ear for banter, his beautifully phrased monologues revealing multi-layered characters culminating in  actions that speak louder than words are all hallmarks of his work. Brandon J. Dirden gives a strong, intelligent performance as Levee, but the entire cast is remarkable, performing on a multi-leveled Set, where each section is uniquely atmospheric. Highly recommended.

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