BWW Reviews: Self-Acceptance and Self-Discovery in VIOLET at Street Theatre Company
Currently running at Street Theatre Company, Violet is a beautiful love story of self-discovery and self-acceptance. With music by Jeanne Tesori and lyrics and book by Brian Crawley, Violet takes us on a journey across the country on a greyhound bus during the mid-sixites.
Violet is a young woman whose face was disfigured by an ax blade when she was a young child. Having spent most of her life being bullied, made fun of and stared at, Violet puts all her hope into a faith healer and all her money into a trip across the country to see him. Cathy Sanborn Street plays Violet, giving the character a beautiful mix of innocence and jaded cynicism. Violet has become bitter about her disfigured face and the reaction that she receives because of it, but she's also full of desire to be accepted, in spite of her scars.
During her travels she meets a series of interesting character, including Flick and Monty, military men who befriend her. Monty, played by Randy Craft, is young and full of himself, but Craft gives him a very human touch. You can't help but like Monty, even when he frustrates you with his actions and words. Craft also has one of the most beautiful songs in the show, "You're Different," which shows us a sweet and honest side to a character that is often coarse and anything but honest.
Flick, played by DeVon Buchanan, quickly befriends Violet and is much of the reason that Monty also becomes her friend. Flick is also used to being different. A higher ranking military man, and a black man in the South during the 1960s, he understands Violet's frustration with people who look at the outside, with no regards to what's behind the face. Buchanan may be one of the best parts of the entire show. He attacks his character with grace and you love can't help but want him to be a champion for Violet. Buchanan shows Flick's kind and honest regard for Violet in a beautiful way, including the struggle he has with their obvious differences and the challenges that they both face.
Throughout the show, we see many of Violet's memories and dreams from the past, including the accident that scared her and some of the events that helped shape her life afterward. Portrayed by Virginia Richardson, Young Violet is hopeful and sweet, but we see her life changing as her peers tease her and the adults around her can barely stand to look at her. Richardson tackles the complex role with amazing talent and ability for such a young person.
A story set shortly before the U.S. became involved in the Vietnam War, and on the cusp of the Civil Rights movement, this story could be seen as dated, but I promise you it isn't. There are so many things about this story that are relevant to the world today. Accepting one's self, and accepting others for more than what's on the outside, and learning that sometimes we are placed in a situation that we must make the best of, in spite of the fact that we really may want to give up and check out. Violet is also about accepting the past and moving on with the future.