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Review: TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES 1992 At Straz Center

A haunting and sobering tour-de-force with Andresia Moseley at the reins.

Review: TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES 1992 At Straz Center 27 Characters, 1 performer, allow me to say it again...27 DIFFERENT CHARACTERS, 1 PERFORMER. Over the course of a 2 Hour span, 1 Performer has the daunting task of honing in on 27 different perspectives, different accounts of a real event. A real event that happened in 1992 but hits just as hard at the core today as it did a mere 28 years ago. Think about that for a minute; an event that happened 28 years ago is just as real, just as haunting today as it was back then. In a world surrounded by testimony on all sides of the spectrum, in a world surrounded by opinions where does the grey area fall? Why are events so controversial then be just as relevant in the world we know today? This brings back to memory the prologue from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, "Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean..." Now 28 years later this has very much become, "...the two-hour traffic of our stage."

Jobsite Theater the Resident Theatre Company at The Straz Center has with Socially Distanced Protocols in place created a safe space, opened its doors, and in a Re-Configured Jaeb welcomed us back home. Jobsite's Artistic Director David M. Jenkins and subsequently the Director helming this tour-de-force has done a Top-Notch job here. All cast and crew should be commended for the performance produced, and the story displayed that was so haunting I find myself still in awe of the remarkable and rather sobering experience Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 created. The play written by Anna Deavere Smith is a gauntlet so to speak for even the most seasoned performer. Between the costume changes, the vocal changes, and the emotional workout an Actor of even the most seasoned would be left energized but exhausted at the end of each performance. I must say that if this happens then as a performer and as a Director you have done something right. Night by night pouring your heart and soul into the words, into the accounts, and even into the minds of 27 different people was so effortlessly done and Andresia Moseley is a force of nature untouched in this realm. A true genuine spirit that bleeds through every line, every emotion, and every encapsulating movement to bring this story to life, and as an audience member, you not only see but feel for her plight right along with her.

The show is a non-stop freight train of justice and sobering testimony that is broken up into 10 parts of two Acts. "Intro," "Smoke," "No Justice, No Peace the Latasha Harlins Story," "The Story of Rodney King The First Trial/Simi Valley February 1992," "Rocked," "The National Guard Comes to Los Angeles," "Viewing," "Morning After," "Losses," and finally "Justice." From the program notes you understand the play was constructed from, "...results of more than 300 interviews conducted by Anna Deavere Smith. She uses the actual words of those women and men to tell the story of the violence that rocked Los Angeles in 1992." The play centers around the aftermath of the brutal beating of Rodney King and the subsequent riots that even today fall all too close to home. David M. Jenkins' smooth direction allows the audience to be drawn into every word, every facet this show has to offer without lending to the unbelievable. The events actually happened, the testimonies actually happened and through this play, we are all able to bear witness to it. Katrina Stevenson's brilliant costume design of black and blue hues lend well in stark contrast to the set design elements of reds and oranges. Jo Averill-Snell's masterful lighting design makes the tense moments even more severe and haunting to bring the audience fully immersed in the riots and horrors that plagued the events. Brian M. Smallheer's set design was wonderfully dictated and allowed the eye to focus on the performer. All involved should be commended up and down for the technical achievements displayed here.

At the root is the incomparable Andresia Moseley who lives, breathes, and manifests every character. As an audience member, you DO NOT see an Actress on stage. You feel, you experience, you witness right along with Keith Watson, former Security Guard and Co-Assailant of Reginald Denny, Maxine Waters Congresswoman of the 35th District, among others. You become a fly on the wall at the events that rocked Los Angeles in 1992. You get to know the Anonymous Juror in the Simi Valley Trial and feel the grief of Rodney King's Aunt Angela King. Just by watching this show, you would swear the real Charlton Heston is gracing the stage with his presence and telling his side of the story. All of this and more makes up Andresia Moseley's performance and one of the finest performances I have seen to date. Above I referenced that she is a Force of Nature unlike anything in this realm and we should be honored to bear witness to the gale-force winds of this truly indelible performance and one that will stain my memory for time to come. Andresia is a nationally recognized Spoken Word Artist and a classically trained actress.

Spoken word has become more recently highlighted on a national stage by the latest winner of America's Got Talent Brandon Leake. During the Quarterfinals, Brandon performed a haunting letter to his mother, (, which brings relevance to events today much like what happened in the events described in Twilight: Los Angeles 1992. I think that is why this performance is so crucial, so sobering, and a much-needed wake-up call some didn't know we needed. From the program notes, "Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 ruthlessly probes the language and the lives of its subjects, offering a stark insight into the complex and pressing social, economic and political issues of the time that are far too familiar today."

Do not sleep on this one my friends, a limited run at the David A Straz Center's Jaeb Theatre 4 performances to be exact which conclude December 2. Tickets can be purchased by visiting or by calling the ticket office at 813-229-7827. If ever there was a performance so needed, so revealing, so raw this is it, this is what Top-Notch Artistry looks like, and this is cemented in my memory as the Best Performance of 2020...DO NOT MISS A SECOND!

Photo Credit: Straz Center

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