ONE NIGHT STANDS! – RAISIN IN THE SUN, LEFTY
(Bad Oracle here: now proudly doing ONE NIGHT STANDS! These are special reports and/or reviews of one night, short run, or one off performances or shows. We want to celebrate what’s happening in a variety of small arts scenes in Baltimore: performance art, comedy, burlesque, student, etc.)
A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun is enjoying a wave of performance in its 65th year. Hansberry’s kitchen sink drama is no less punching than in its 1959 debut, and themes of thwarted dreams and housing disenfranchisement depressingly relevant. Dwayne Miles and Timeeka Addison direct a taunt, intensely well-acted joint production from The Carltaise Ransom Royal Hues Melanin Manor African Ensemble Theater and WombWork Productions. Veteran actors Kay Lawal-Muhmmad (Lena Younger) and Carltaise Ransom (Walter Lee Younger) helm a stellar, potent ensemble cast, one of the best I’ve seen on the Baltimore small stage. Lawal-Muhammad hits every aching beat, her matriarch a dethroned queen seated on a decaying couch, trying to graft her spine onto a son made frustrated and weak by his circumstances. Ransom’s Lee is a career defining part, and he more than does it justice, finding the vulnerability inside the rageful, wounded man. Stephanie Anita Thomas-Williams is a steely-eyed Ruth whose palpable, heartbreaking desperation to fly the coop is instantly relatable, and Terena McLorn effective as fuck as forward-thinking, almost-radical Beneatha. The staging is threadbare, but with performances like this, who cares? Not me.
Waiting for Lefty –
Baltimore School for the Arts presents Clifford Odets’ Waiting for Lefty, an obscure piece of leftist propaganda about labor strikes that may preach to the choir, but even the choir needs a sermon now and again, right? The episodic one-act is supported by excellent projection design from student Charlie Dean, whose interludes forefront the “then and now” vibe director Rosiland Cauthen hones in on. Acting is strong across the board, with Sekai Watkins standing out as Agate in a late-stage, powerful, rabble-rousing speech that makes you want to stand up and cheer. Nyjae Perkins is compelling as Edna, one of the strikers wives, as is Julia Myers as clear-eyed, disappointed Florrie. These kids are coming for ya, and they’re some to watch.