Posts Tagged ‘feminine energy’

Feminine Energy
By Myah L. Gary
Directed by Jacqueline Thompson
Mustard Seed Theatre
February 12, 2023

Erin Renee Roberts, Ricki Franklin, Andrea Purnell
Photo by Jon Abbott
Mustard Seed Theatre

Mustard Seed Theatre, which has been “on pause” for the past few seasons, is making a return with what is being billed as a “pop-up” production of a new play, Myah L. Gary’s Feminine Energy. An intriguing drama-with-humor that looks at the lives of three close friends, this is a welcome engagement from a well-respected St. Louis theatre company and featuring excellent local performers. It’s a character-driven show that provides much to think, and talk about.

The show centers on three best friends who grew up together and their medical and family struggles. They all have different life situations, and some contrasting goals and beliefs, but they maintain a close friendship and support one another in their various struggles. Debra (Andrea Purnell) has received a scary diagnosis and has been struggling with how to tell her family–including her teenage aspiring-vlogger daughter (Rae Davis), nervous husband (Joshua Mayfield), and hypercritical mother (Michelle Dillard). Monique (Ricki Franklin), a midwife, is happily married but struggling with infertility. Soleil (Erin Renee Roberts), a professor and counselor, is single and dealing with issues involving work, health, and family, as she deals with an immature personal assistant (also Davis), a long struggle with endometriosis, and a concerned mother (also Dillard) who doesn’t like Soleil’s decision to not have biological children. Their stories are interwoven as all three women deal with difficult situations and people in their lives, sharing their hopes, dreams, fears, and concerns as their stories unfold. 

The three central performers are all excellent, with a believable friendship bond and many memorable moments, both comic and dramatic. Roberts, Franklin, and Purnell are also ably supported by a quartet of performers who play various roles. Dillard plays the “Mamas” with remarkable energy, making each of these characters easy to distinguish from the others. Davis is also excellent as several characters including Debra’s daughter Jasmine, Soleil’s initially flighty but gradually maturing personal assistant Regina, and a distrustful client of Monique’s. Mayfield is fine as various characters, as well, including the two very different husbands of Debra and Monique, although some variation in costuming might help in distinguishing these characters more easily. There’s an excellent turn from Claire Louise Monarch as a series of medical professionals–some helpful and some not as much–and a somewhat goofy client of Monique’s. 

The look of this production is stylish and memorable, with a versatile set by Patrice Nelms and evocative lighting by Michael Sullivan. The costumes, by Shevare Perry, are especially remarkable and vibrant, with a variety of styles that are well suited to the various characters. There’s also proficient sound design by AhSa-Ti Nu Tyehimba-Ford, and excellent use of music to establish the tone of the production.

Overall, Feminine Energy is an engaging, thoughtful look at friendships among women–and particularly Black women–as they navigate various challenges in life, love, and work. It’s well-structured, for the most part, giving adequate time to the various stories and connecting them well, although the ending seems slightly abrupt. It’s a thoroughly compelling story, with a great cast and strong production values. I hope this is a good sign for Mustard Seed, and that the success of this production will lead to more from this company in the future. 

Erin Renee Roberts, Rae Davis
Photo by Jon Abbott
Mustard Seed Theatre

Mustard Seed Theatre is presenting Feminine Energy at Fontbonne University until February 19, 2023

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