Posts Tagged ‘the light’

The Light
by Loy A. Webb
Directed by Kristi Papailler
The Black Rep
February 11, 2023

Alicia Revé Like, Eric J. Conners
Photo by Phillip Hamer
The Black Rep

It’s somewhat difficult to review the Black Rep’s latest production–not because it’s not excellent. It certainly is, with well-cast leads and a thoroughly credible, intriguing story that is meticulously constructed. The issue I’m having, though, is that describing what happens in this play seems like too much of a spoiler, since the unfolding “reveal” is the main source of the drama. I will try my best to be vague about what happens here, but what I can say unreservedly is that The Light is an excellent play, with outstanding performances. 

A lot happens in this play, especially considering how short it is–about 70 minutes, without intermission. Even with that running time, nothing in this story seems rushed. It takes its time, even to the point where for a while I was wondering why this was even a play, because for quite a while, it just seems like an “ordinary” situation–a couple celebrating their two-year dating anniversary, after Chicago firefighter Rashad (Eric J. Conners) has set up a plan to propose to Genesis (Alicia Revé Like), a school principal.  There’s a lot of wordless business about his hiding envelopes and a ring box around the apartment, and then Genesis arrives home from work and it seems like a fairly typical day, as the two talk about their day, and reminisce about their relationship. For a while, it seems like this is going to be a relatively light piece, until things get more serious in a way has the intended dramatic impact but also makes complete sense considering how the story has developed. It’s a masterful exercise in foreshadowing and deliberate dramatic build-up, with a potentially devastating impact on the characters’ lives and relationship. 

The story–which deals with some difficult subjects–is given all the more impact by the excellent performances of the two leads, who make a thoroughly believable couple and fully realized individual characters. The interplay between Like and Conners forms the heart of this play, and even when the conflict emerges and gets heated, the emotional investment is there. The clearly  established love between these two characters is so carefully built up in the first part of the play, and both Like and Conners deliver that strong sense of connection so well, it makes the latter half of the play all the more dramatically intense, leading up to a perfectly timed conclusion that leaves room for hope, even though it doesn’t provide easy answers.

This production also showcases the technical excellence of its designers, starting with Jim Burwinkel’s fully realized apartment. There are also well-suited costumes by Kristen Gray, and appropriately mood-setting lighting by Sean Savoie. The sound, by Christian Kitchens, is excellent, as well.

The Light is an appropriate title for this play, as becomes clear as the story unfolds. It’s a serious-issue play–dealing with many timely topics given a highly personal focus–but it’s not without a ray of hope. It’s another strong production from one of the most consistently excellent theatre companies in St. Louis. It’s a thoroughly compelling drama. 

Eric J. Conners, Alicia Revé Like
Photo by Phillip Hamer
The Black Rep

The Black Rep is presenting The Light at Washington University’s  Hotchner Studio Theatre until February 21, 2023

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