The Emperor Jones Enters Final Weekend At Centre Theater

In its almost 20 year history, Iron Age Theatre Company has not played it safe. They produce unique new works-always a gamble-and aren't afraid to tackle difficult classics. Their current production continues this mission.

Director John Doyle and company jump right in without fear. Kash Goins plays the title role with great passion-he is essentially doing a monologue for the bulk of the 70 minute performance as Jones thrashes through the jungle. Goins and Doyle seem to have found a variety of colors and levels to play with-and I'm sure this will grow as the run progresses. The British Smithers, is portrayed by Luke Moyer-a very engaging performer. He is a great foil for Goins.

I have seen a number of productions at Iron Age over the years, and I have always been impressed with their design sensibility and how they use their space. Randall Wise, their resident set designer has created a multi-faceted "jungle" set utilizing movable units of bamboo that get reconfigured throughout the piece to represent various parts of the island.Ben Levan's lighting design is suitably eerie. The sound design-predominantly live native drumming-was most effective, building to a frenzy as the play drew to its inevitable climax.

Goins writhes about the stage, dripping with sweat as Jones plummets more deeply into his internal hell. His powerless terror is made all the more intense by John Scaduto's driving African beats. Jones' visions are intensified by director John Doyle's haunting chorus ensemble as they lurk and crawl across the stage with ghostly presence - continually reminding Jones of the black world he belongs to. The costumes and bamboo set by Randall Wise perfectly reflect the interior madness and jungle fever.

Montgomery Ticket
So here's a big tip of the hat to Iron Age Theatre, the Norristown company that is taking on The Emperor Jones. Even with mixed results - the production is rough - Iron Age approaches the play with a sincerity that shows in several ways: the percussion by John Scaduto and John Grosso that runs through 90 percent of the show, the freakish forest costumes and bamboo-and-straw set by Randall Wise, the emotive lighting by Ben Levan.

This hat-tip extends to the emperor himself; faced with a role both meaty and theatrically daunting, Kash Goins gives it his all and often hits the mark. When he does, there's a real fury in his eyes and a dread in his voice.

"The Emperor Jones" runs through March 27 at the Centre Theater, Norristown's professional theater at 208 DeKalb St. in downtown Norristown. Show times are 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

"The Emperor Jones" features Kash Goins as Brutus Jones. Goins is one of the fastest rising stars in the Philadelphia region and the director of GOKASH productions. He is a writer, director producer and innovator who spearheaded this fall's Philadelphia Urban Theatre Festival. He played John Henry in the Centre Theater's world premiere of "The Life of John Henry" by Chris Braak. Supporting Goins is Luke Moyer, who plays the Emperor's cynical British crony. Moyer, was last seen in the world premier of "Molumby's Million" and "The Rear Column" at The Centre Theater. Tiffany Joyner, Rich Bradford, Maurice Tucker round out the ensemble. Josh Cameron who made his stage debut in The Rear Column will also be part of the cast Eugene O'Neill is considered the greatest American playwright. A multiple Pulitzer Prize winner, his dramas such as "Moon for the Misbegotten," and "Long Days Journey Into Night" defined American theater and are still among the greatest plays written.

Make your reservations today.
The performances take place at
The Centre Theater at
208 DeKalb Street, Norristown, PA
in our 4th floor theatre.
To purchase tickets please call 610-279-1013 or online at

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