Front to back: Iesha Daniels and Suzen Baraka
Props to John P. Flynn and Rogue Machine Theatre for stepping up with this heavy discussion regarding the plight of this specific Boston neighborhood plagued by money grubbing money grubbers to the detriment of this community!
You can't tell the players without a program (and the excellence in the doubling of this cast of actors makes it no small task). Jargon is peppered with tought language that, is, evidently simply a way of talkin'. Epithets are no longer vulgar language, they're just a cultural way to express one's identity. I think?
Assisted by outspoken Meeka (Amazing Suzen Baraka who also plays Beth, the tight-assed banker who may be white?), Shay runs her African beauty store that "smells like comfort" along Dudley Street in Boston. Shay's store is an integral part of a community where things have been uncomfortably changing for some time now. Shay is a widow: the single mom of her teen daughter, Ruth (spot on Iesha M. Daniels / equally cool as far out Lili). Shay needs a Small Business Loan to keep her shop afloat. Good luck with that!
With double casting, we keep the women characters separated by wig changes. There are a LOT OF WIGS.
Frustrations emerge regarding the changing times and some obvious bias (Shay directs her final speech to the audience. We all may be guilty) that still weighs on people of color attempting to retain their cultural values. (It reminded me of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins "Neighbors") This lays the groundwork for what folks must do to survive. Meeka, the fireband to the fore!! I wish I understood Twitter or Tweeker or whatever it is. Social Meida! To the rescue!
Scott Victor Nelson plays kindly and practical Mark, limning nicely Nicky and Leo as well. He is the only guy in the cast. The challenge of playing multiple roles is tackled beautifully by every member of the company. When only four actors take the curtain call, it's a bit of a shock!
Mark Mendelson's spectacular scenic design smoothly morphs locations featuring huge turning panels. The budget is on the stage! Excellent lights by leIgh allen shift scenes easily from Shay's shop to a bank to a meeting room to a park bench. Excellent tech!
"can i touch it" asks other "Questions" that are answered with an arcane ritual that I did not understand. But! I appreciate the commitment of the actors. There's also some odd business that has to do with magic and a sort of earthquake? that happens, but went right over my head. The physical presentation and choreography of the questions is terrific!
Shay: Safiya Fredericks
Mark/Nicky/Leo: Scott Victor Nelson
Ruth/Lili: Iesha M. Daniels
Meeka/Beth: Suzen Baraka
Tory B voice recorded by Stanley Andrew Jackson
“can i touch it?”
Written by francisca da silveira
Directed by Gregg T. Daniel
Produced by: John Perrin Flynn and Guillermo Cienfuegos
Associate Producer: Mildred Marie Langford
A Rogue Machine Production
Opening: 8pm on Saturday, May 6, 2023
8pm Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays; 3pm Sundays
(No performance on Monday May 8)
Continues through June 11, 2023
Note the generous Monday dates that invite other theatre companies to attend when their shows may be dark.
7657 Melrose Ave
Producers: John Perrin Flynn & Guillermo Cienfuegos
Director: Gregg T. Daniel
Associate Producer: Mildred MarIe Langford
Assistant Director: Vanessa K. Hanish
Scenic Design: Mark Mendelson
Lighting Design: Leigh Allen
Sound Design: Chris Moscatiello
Costume and Wig Design: Wendell Carmichael
Prop Design: Ashley Crow
Movement Design: Joyce Guy
Dramaturge: Lindsay Jenkins
Casting Director: Victoria Hoffman
Technical Directors: Dane Bowman & Joe McClean
Production Manager: Rachel Ann Manheimer
Dramaturg: Lindsay A. Jenkins
Graphic Design: Michelle Hanzelova-Bierbauer