Review: Theatre Raleigh's PEACE OF CLAY

Mike Wiley & Howard L. Craft's new play made its world premiere here in the Triangle area.

By: Oct. 03, 2021

Review: Theatre Raleigh's PEACE OF CLAY

Peace of Clay explores the pressures, hopes, and aspirations of a young man coming of age in a southern city in the 1980s. Raised by a devoted mother in the projects, Clay tries to pursue his path in the midst of obstacles large and small while also discovering his own power and strength.

According to Theatre Raleigh's description of Peace of Clay, it is "a meditation on an African-American lower-working-class family in pursuit of an American dream that always seems to exist just beyond their grasp". What I would add to that is this story happens to be very relevant to today thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement. For many years to come, it will probably continue to be relevant for different reasons.

Under the direction of Aurelia Belfield, she brings out empathy from underneath the brash performances of the cast. Myles Walker gives quite a humble performance as Clay, a 17-year-old aspiring filmmaker who works at a video store. One standout moment he has is when he offers up a heartfelt monologue about his late father in Act I. Rasool Jahan is both strong and caring as Clay's mother, Dean, who works long shifts at a local restaurant in order to provide for her son. Lauren Foster Lee plays Clay's love interest, Aisha, who works with him at the video store. When we first meet her, she perfectly displays both sides of being a employee. One who is supposed to be friendly to the customers, and one who isn't as much to her fellow co-workers. Although when she spends more time with Clay throughout the show, the audience roots for them to become a couple.

Sai Graham as Clay's best friend, Marvin, provides such a sassy personality. Trevor Johnson is so memorable as Dean's love interest, Bumbry. Kyma Lassiter proves to be quite a comedic highlight as Dean's co-worker, Connie. As Marvin's drug-addicted mother, Shelia, Lakeisha Coffey gets a standout moment in Act II when she delivers an emotionally devastating monologue.

For the world premiere production of this new play by Mike Wiley & Howard L. Craft, it turns out to be a very thought provoking work. For the finale to Theatre Raleigh's 2021 summer season, I think they've gone out on a high note. I hope Peace of Clay eventually gets produced by more theatres all over the world as I feel it deserves to have a life beyond this compelling production.


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