Review of Resurrection by Angela Theresa Egic

“This play is a fantasy based on true events.”

The playbill greets us with this under ‘Historical Background’. This dramatic and lengthy play by the outstanding, inspirational playwright, the forever young 82 years young, Anne L. Thompson-Scretching. We were blessed by her being there in the lobby and becoming our greeter at the door.

This is no spoiler to tell you, as the title, in a way, gives it away. All the characters are dead. Most of them massacred. A story of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. A very prosperous area that was nicknamed NEGRO WALL STREET by Booker T. Washington. Those who know this history today call it BLACK WALL STREET. This play was part of the Women in Theatre at the Sargent Theatre at American Theatre of Actors.

The cast are resurrected to tell us the story, Courtney Everette greets us in this bombed out church; and a little area Stage Right which will serve as a little hat shop. The set, in this case, is simple and done well, yet – not essential for me. I assumed the character of Alan Jackson/Narrator (Everette) and his strong acting and eclectic voice, that he was the church Minister. Nevertheless, found out he was the Doctor – the set was a meeting place for the town and ties into the history.

This play could be done on a bare stage or with just a bench or two, as the dialogue ` and tells us, or me, the whole story – a great educational piece for Black History Month and all the months of the year for every American — every little detail. It was staged well by the playwright/Director, Ms. Thompson-Scretching; to keep this play moving as we already knew the end [the characters are all dead].

It made me think of Spoon River Anthology [in the style only] with a very important, and horrid part of history. The playwright even said she had recently heard of it [the 1921 Black Wall Street massacre]. It could have been lost to history if not for incredible people like her. In fact, the play is going to be presented in Oklahoma [where it happened], she told me, after it’s run in NY.

All the actors were great in their roles – all the different personalities and emotionally raw acting, moment after moment. Ms. Thompson-Scretching built drama to keep it moving, because of its monologue-ish style. There is where I would say it could use editing. The first act was more storyline; and relatively early on, the story was clear. This was followed by beginning each individual person’s story of how they were massacred, and their place and date they were killed.

There were annoying moments in the audience, though; behind me an audience member decided to eat something in a plastic bag, the crunching of the bag and the food (like movie popcorn?) throughout the first act, causing a few of us to look back in the small space was distracting. Then a few people decided to get up and noisily exit for the bathroom, I’ll assume. Yes, the first act was very long.

Editing could make much of the dialogue/monologues more to the point. As a lot of it was similar. This is my main critique on the script. Dramatic? Yes! A story I wanted to hear. Yes! Details of how they were killed. Sure! How they saw death or felt about it? Yes, BUT they all had similar anger or feelings about it (in the writing). And in that, alone, is where it needs the editing. When they all described feeling similar anger to how and why they died as one audience member told me “a lot of repeating the same thing” . . . it would have flowed much better.

If could have been more concise, having allowed some people to stay in their seats until the intermission. The intermission, if not announced and written in the playbill, had most of us thinking the show was over. It was very long.

The second act continued and promised to say exactly how the situation really happened; although, it pretty clear in the First Act. Although, meeting the cause [of the massacre], a white hysterical woman who cried rape by a black man. Hearing her story, Lula Noble (Katie Trubetsky) was needed. Katie is an animated, interesting actress to see in action. Certainly, her dialogue could have been edited, and I would have liked to see her sooner. Lula, as far as it goes, caused the whole thing and expertly, ended the show with her final story.

Katie as Lula was just sensational to observe!

I enjoyed the show despite getting a bit tired. It was a cast of true professional, flawless actors. Each and every actor was amazing in their role. It was an honor to see their work here and you should, too, if given the chance.

My recommendation to Ms. Thompson-Scretching is to do more editing to keep people in their seats. Personally, I also would have liked to have heard and seen different points of view of the after-death experience. They all died in horrid experiences and anger at the inequity is understandable. The only person who had a different experience, and the acting was beautiful, was the Chickasaw Indian girl, Molly Brightwater (Samantha Hernandez). Samantha owned the role.

Many of the same exact words, character to character and within each character’s recall(s) repeated the same thing over and over. As an example only, “when I died I felt angry” and after a bit more dialogue, the same character repeated “when I died I felt angry”. [These are not actual quotes from the show].  

These are observations from my playwrighting, acting and viewing experiences. I certainly cannot compare to the experience of the phenomenal, Ms. Thomas-Scretching and learned much from her show.

Thank you for this moving history lesson, Ms. Thomas-Scretching and you keep going. Congratulations to the whole cast. I’d nominate all of you for awards, really would.

Quick thoughts on the cast:

  • Willie Pool (Max Braddak): Max is an excellent actor portraying the man caught up in his raising and his conscious that tells him, somewhere, not to hate everyone.
  • Bess Parker (Marsha St. Julien): Marsha is a beautiful moving actress, and just beautiful in every way. You want her to get some good in this tragic story. And her demise will bring you to tears!
  • Sadie (Ms. D): Now, I have seen Ms. D before in another show here. I love her ability to be a chameleon of every role she takes on. The fact, I had to see if it was her from the other play – and only because she looked so familiar. Two very different characters from the other play to this one.
  • Marcus & Carl Peoples (Laquan Hailey): Laquan was just perfect! His abilities to go through such emotional turmoil, guilt, fear, and so much more felt real. He was all in.
  • Ethan Booker (Jonathon Horton): Ethan’s performance, in my book was award-winning. If we were voting on way against type, he’d win, hands-down! He really made us hate him and feel for him, at the same time.
  • Percy Sims (Dave Hummel): Percy was lovely as a man in both worlds. Being he portrayed a mixed-race man. A believable performance in every way.
  • Jesse Mack (Brandon Lee Johnson): Brandon affectively scared us and showed his ability to make us dislike Jesse as the type of character he portrayed.
  • Peter Holmes (Kevin Leonard): Wonderful! Kevin portraying someone who knew who he was and so believably. A true talent, obviously.
  • Blue Forebears (Joshuah Patriarco): The fact he was so mean, and nasty was proof of Joshuah’s sensational acting talent. In real life, he is also a drag queen. You will not know that in this amazing role.
  • Oliver Porter (Rommell Sermons): Another one to keep watching. There will be more roles coming for Rommell, as well.
  • Ron (Moses Sesay): Moses rounded out the cast so well.

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