Tag Archives: Andre’ L Gainey
Blood may be thicker than water, but Brothers of the Dust at M Ensemble asks whether it’s thicker than land or greed or, crucially, dreams. M Ensemble presented this family drama three years ago with the same director and lead, but that familiarity has paid off with a deeper, more assured and more affecting experience for the audience than the first rendition
Music, sometimes tenderly introspective, sometimes upliftingly powerful, is deftly woven throughout the surging triumph of both the rise of the all-black 1939 New York Renaissance basketball team and M Ensemble’s moving recreation of the “Rens” banner year in Layon Gray’s Kings of Harlem.
Critics and award judges have been talking about it for weeks: The sheer amount of high quality work has made evaluating the last 12 months unusually challenging, but also an opportunity to remember one of the most rewarding calendar years in recent memory. So here’s a supremely subjective stab by all three critics here at Florida Theater On Stage at recognizing the shows and performances that stood out from a pack of productions.
Imagine white water rapids raging past you; now imagine the liquid is molten lava – a heedless force of nature threatening to destroy everything. Such images are the by-product of watching the incomparable Ethan Henry bringing one of August Wilson’s tragic heroes to three-dimensional life in M Ensemble’s The Piano Lesson.
M Ensemble’s production of The Gift Horse has praiseworthy virtues and crippling problems that make it a mixed experience. But it does give the audience a long-delayed gift in Carey Hart’s scintillating, poignant performance as a witty but troubled woman seeking true love.
Earth, fire and blood mix with resentments, loyalties, betrayals, secrets and love in M Ensemble’s Brothers of the Dust. The production and performances veer from moving to stilted. But nothing can dim the consistent underlying glow of the script by young playwright Darren Canady whose vision and voice are unusually promising.
Some vibrant performances – one of them pure electricity – rescue M Ensemble’s uneven production of Charles Smith’s intriguing but flawed script about boldface names from the Harlem Renaissance, Knock Me A Kiss.
The power of storytelling – swapping tales on the porch or watching a familial drama unfold on stage – is the keystone of AAPACT’s production of August Wilson’s Fences. The earnest edition noticeably lacks the Shakespearean power of other productions, but the accretion of calamities grows through its second act until the audience is moved by the tragedy.
AAPACT’S ambitious The Amen Corner is earnest and heartfelt although most of the time, the characters and their tragic spiral simply don’t feel genuine or organic. But every 20 minutes or so in this 2 ½-hour evening, the actors dig into their marrow and slingshot the play from pedestrian performances into an affecting truth that clutches the audience’s heart.
M Ensemble moved into the performance space last June, and makes good use of the comfortable black-box theater for the first presentation of its 40th anniversary season, August Wilson’s Radio Golf.