Arts » Theater

Capsule reviews of current area theater presentations.

comment

Bourbon at the Border Set in 1990s Detroit, this ambitious play by Pearl Cleage explores the toll that 1964's Freedom Summer in Mississippi took on its participants. During the almost 90 minutes before intermission, the playwright slowly introduces us to quiet, sixtysomething May and her apartment-house pal Rosa, a snappy, slightly younger soul sister with a fast mouth. We soon learn that May's husband, Charlie, has been in a mental institution for depression, a long-standing ailment triggered by the horrific events of that summer. He has recently been released and soon arrives at May's home. But there, the three engage in so much small talk, the serious issues Charlie and May are dealing with become submerged in prattle. Something actually happens in the second act, when Charlie is fired from his new job. That trauma triggers a flashback for May, during which she relives being brutalized at the hands of a Mississippi sheriff and his mouth-breathing deputies. The actors acquit themselves remarkably here, and director Terrence Spivey drives the pace as well as he can, but there are so many squishy and undramatic sequences that even his hyperactive blocking can't cover up the flaccid writing. There are no doubt great stories to be told about Freedom Summer, but this one takes too long to get to the heart of the matter. — Produced by Ensemble Theatre in collaboration with Karamu House, through January 20 at the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Avenue, 216-321-2930. — Christine Howey

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.