Review: THE LIGHT at Ensemble

Ensemble's Cleveland premiere of THE LIGHT is theater at its finest

By: May. 29, 2023
Review: THE LIGHT at Ensemble

Loy A. Webb’s THE LIGHT, which is now having its Cleveland area premiere at Ensemble Theater, introduces Rashad, a firefighter, and Genesis, a charter school principal, on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives.
Unfortunately, their joy quickly unravels when ground-shifting accusations from the past resurface asking, “Can their relationship survive the growing divide between them over who – and what – to believe? 
THE LIGHT is a reckoning that unfolds in real time and peels away the layers of truth, doubt, pain.  It implores, “is love enough?”

The play begins with a much-anticipated marriage proposal. But after an enthusiastic “Yes! Yes! reply to the proposal,” it swerves into darker terrain. It recalls a moment when a woman said, “no” and it wasn’t heard, or was ignored.

Language is important.  This play is a rom-com, a drama, as well as a tragedy. Do we have a word for that? Do we want one?

This is a tear-struck thesis play, proposing that, as Genesis says, “black women are at the bottom of virtually everything in society,” their labor undervalued, their hurt unrecognized. They deserve to be heard and seen and believed, not because they are someone’s wife or mother or daughter, but because they are human beings.”

The play is focused and creatively directed by Jeannine Gaskin, with intimacy direction by Julia Fisher.  The runway set, with the audience on each side of the stage, was attractively designed by Ian Hinz, who also did the light design.  (Sidenote:  holding the final light cue for a brief few more seconds would have added to the suspenseful ending.)

The two-person cast is superb.  Both Nicole Sumlin (Genesis) and Ananias J Dixon (Rashad) give flawless, emotionally vulnerable performances.  Neither acts their characters, they live their personas.  Tempers are held in check and then explode.  Tears are held back and then flow.  Each is stoic and then totally vulnerable.  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  

CAPSULE JUDGMENT:  Every once in a while a theater-goer is blessed with an emotional and logical experience that lives for a long time in their being.  Such is THE LIGHT, Loy A. Webb’s searing must-see play that is having its Cleveland area premiere at Ensemble Theater.
THE LIGHT runs through June 11, 2023 at Ensemble Theatre, housed in the main academic building’s Performing Arts Center, at Notre Dame College.  There is free parking in the easily accessed lot at 4545 College Road (off Green Road), South Euclid.
For tickets call 216-321-2930 or go to Click Here



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From This Author - Roy Berko

Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in mo... Roy Berko">(read more about this author)


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