A standing ovation just didn't seem enough for the cast of “A Soldier's Play”. This must see performance is full of energy and emotion that will have you on the edge of your seat. You'll be gripped by the story and captivated by the acting. It's a truly incredible experience that you won't want to miss. So make sure to catch A Soldier's Play before it leaves the stage!
On Tuesday, Philly native, Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama from 1982 opened at Philadelphia Forrest Theater for a short five day run. Set in an Army base during segregated 1944 Louisiana, the story follows the tragic murder of a Black sergeant (Vernon C Waters)- just moments after it begins! Witness this powerful revival to uncover what happens next.
This storyline explores issues of racism, and understanding oneself and each other through difficult circumstance. The play is so relevant today and affirms Fuller's message of the physical and psychological effects of racism, Racism can have catastrophic effects for both those on the receiving end and even those carrying out these acts. Charles Fuller shows that which has been so deeply embedded in our culture as to be assumed without question – an altogether more insidious form of prejudice.
The black soldiers are convinced the murder is done by the KKK and the white commanding officer believe it was two white officers and until Captain Davenport (Norm Lewis) arrived everyone felt powerless. There was a sense of pride and surprise in the arrival of Davenport, there were no “black officers at West Point” He commanded the attention of everyone as he did not back down from insults and even lifted his shoulders slightly after proclaiming to be a graduate a Howard University. His performance gave you sense of what other officers must have felt during this time of service.
The cast were incredibly convincing and they put forth great chemistry between each other. They presented the complex emotions involved in the story with a level of subtlety, which helped to create a powerful atmosphere throughout the theater.
Eugene Lee (Sergeant Vernon C Waters), the character you wanted to hate. He might have played this role a little too well. While you wanted to appreciate his stern attitude and reminders to be better, his struggles with self-hatred and resentment were evident.
Sheldon D Brown (Private CJ Memphis), the gentle giant that could warm your heart with a song and smile but had no idea had to tell a short story. His story of dealing with adversity made everyone stop and think.
All aspects of the performance were positively received from the audience, from music, lighting, costumes to impressive imagery and projection. It was a show which truly brought alive this story which is both heartfelt as well as intensely dramatic.
With a riveting murder master storyline, “A Soldier's Play” is an enduring glimpse into the heart of systemic racism – from personal prejudices to institutionalized discrimination. It remains relevant today as it highlights how fighting for change and hope may be precarious but not impossible endeavors.
When: January 24 – 29th
Where: Forrest Theater. co-presented by the Kimmel Cultural Campus and The Shubert Organization
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased by calling 212-239-6200, visiting www.telecharge.com, or in-person beginning on January 3, 2023, at the Forrest Theatre box office (1114 Walnut Street).
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