Writer: Vivian Wright
Director: Vivian Wright
Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Love of a Black Man is an original, zany dramedy that deals with the lives of brother and sister duo Douglas and Beatrice. Douglas is being united with a daughter he hasn’t seen in over seventeen years and Beatrice is on a mission to find the man of her dreams. The premise of this black box production is intriguing, but unfortunately it doesn’t consistently live up to the expectations.
The first twenty minutes of the play are like a slow-moving train trying to get out of the station, filled with a boatload of one-liners (many of which do not land) and predictable banter. The play doesn’t really begin until Douglas’ daughter Hunter enters (played by Daysha Williams). In notable contrast to the rest of the cast, her poise and clarity of intentions are spot-on. She even seems to energize the other actors, which in turn helps move the story forward.
The direction of the play, by Vivian Wright, has moments of sharpness and creativity, especially in regard to utilizing the small space and the choice to place outdoor scenes in front of the set. However, too much of the play is two characters sitting or standing side by side delivering dialogue until one of them has to leave the scene. It gets occasionally interesting when one character is seated and the other character walks around pensively, but much of the blocking is static and uninspired.
The set, for which there is no designer credited, is a basic living room adjacent to a dining room. It might have been an interesting choice to place the action in a more atypical location, since the setting doesn’t influence the action or create specificity for the characters.
This production is a strong concept, poorly executed. Perhaps with some more time to workshop it, there is room for positive improvements, but this incarnation is weak and amateurish. It is not for the savvy theater goer.
Reviewed on 18 January 2019