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Review: THE AMEN CORNER at The Williams Project And Langston

Review: THE AMEN CORNER at The Williams Project And Langston

A stirring tale of faith at all costs.

Review: THE AMEN CORNER at The Williams Project And Langston
Malcom J. West, Amaya Zhané, and Maiya Reaves in
The Amen Corner from The Williams Project and Langston.
Photo credit: Michael B. Maine

Dear Readers, if you're at all familiar with The Williams Project, then you know of their hard-hitting shows. Their "Blues for Mister Charlie" from 2016 was just one of their outstanding works. Now they're back to take on another piece from James Baldwin, his "The Amen Corner", and once again they show they know how to drive a story home.

In "The Amen Corner" we meet Sister Margaret (Maiya Reaves), a devout pastor for a corner church in Harlem. She lives there with her son David (Dimitri Woods) and her sister Odessa (Cathleen Riddley) as she leads her congregation and family through a singular view, how their actions honor God. But when her ex-husband Luke (Adrian Roberts) comes back into her life, her secrets begin to surface, and we see how her strict devotion may not be the answer for everything.

Beyond Baldwin's amazing play, The Williams Project, Langston, and director Reggie D. White have incorporated some fantastic gospel pieces with the help of music director Aaron M. Davis Norman. And right from the start we're immersed into the world of the church by this making the tone and atmosphere crystal clear. Not to mention getting the audience pumped up for the play to come.

The piece then raises the roof with a rousing sermon from Reaves who takes the congregation and the audience to hell and back as she shares with the congregation how they are not honoring the Lord. And once the sermon is over, her congregation (Holiday, Felicia Loud, Anjelica McMillan, and Malcom J. West) deliciously launch into their own kind of "church" as they gossip all about the pastor and her family. It lends for a beautiful hypocrisy of the devout vs. the backstabbing. And even as the sermon is going on, the looks from Woods speak volumes of his own doubts on what his mother is saying.

But it's Reaves who leads the show with gusto as her stage presence is tough not to watch. She manages a gorgeous arc as her world becomes more and more exposed right up to the heartbreaking end. And I must mention Amaya Zhané, who only appears in a few scenes but owns both with some heart wrenching power.

Once again, The Williams Project brings the power with this stunning piece and it's a pleasure to watch. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give The Williams Project and Langston's production of "The Amen Corner" an AMEN of a YAY. You don't have to be a churchgoer to appreciate this piece, but they will certainly take you to church with it.

"The Amen Corner" from The Williams Project and Langston performs at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute through November 20th. For tickets or information, visit them online at www.williamsproject.org.




From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)


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