Thursday, December 11, 2014

Primal Forces Productions: Sunset Baby (reviews)

SunsetBabyPrimal Forces Productions opened their production of Sunset Baby at Andrews Living Arts Studio on November 29, 2014.
A tough, suspenseful urban drama about a former 1960s revolutionary whose deceased wife has taken too many secrets to her grave. In his last-minute search for the truth, he hooks up with his estranged daughter only to learn that her story is darker and more complex than even he could have imagined.
Keith Garrson directed a cast that featured  John Archie, Makeba Pace and Ethan Henry.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
More than a dozen shows are on the boards right this minute and a lot of holiday/family demands are battling for space on your calendar. But shoehorn in Primal Force’s stunning production of a scorching play few have heard of, Sunset Baby, by a playwright few have heard of, Dominique Morisseau.
The driving pace and nuanced leadership is the best work we can recall from director Keith Garsson, and it gives meaty complex characters to veteran actor John Archie as a worn-out grizzled revolutionary and the always superb Ethan Henry as a drug dealer and violent street thief, both men with dreams of a better life.
But the headline is reserved for the ferocious, mercurial, sexy multi-layered creation of Makeba Pace... She gives a bravura performance that has to be seen to be appreciated.
…When you stumble over a writer of such power and skill as Morisseau, you have to wonder why you’ve never heard of her. She’s young but has quite an award-winning output (See We can only hope to hear a lot more from her.   Her script is dense with ideas, eloquent in its language and frequently requires actors to have their characters credibly make hairpin turns, all of which these actors and director handle deftly.
It helps here that the words are coming from the mouths of these three actors who spit, coo and scream this verbiage with plausibility and passion. Henry… is especially skilled creating this innately intelligent and highly verbose hustler whose never-explained past encompasses sophisticated book-learning as well as street smarts… Archie once again gives a riff on the persona he has used frequently but which he executes perfectly.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Sunset Baby… provides a showcase for the talents of three of South Florida’s most riveting actors: Ethan Henry, Makeba Pace and Carbonell Award winner John Archie.
Director Keith Garsson and the actors fiercely explore a 90-minute piece dense with ideas and roiling with conflict.
Pace allows Nina only the tiniest flashes of vulnerability, otherwise playing a tough, focused, cynical woman who uses her sexual allure as one more way to make her escapist dream come true. Archie makes Kenyatta a philosopher still missing a vulnerable heart but even now quite adept at the hustle. And Henry? He’s mesmerizing.
Though he appears far less frequently on South Florida stages than an actor of his talents should, Henry has “it” — meaning craft, talent and a magnetism that draws the audience into the wildly different characters he plays. His Damon is a huge personality, crafty and threatening but completely believable. He, Pace and Archie form a formidable trio, and he’ll be back in April’s Primal Forces production of Lanford Wilson’s Redwood Curtain. Which is very good news indeed.
Rod Stafford Hagwood reviewed wrote for The Sun-Sentinel:
It's real poetry, sweetly wistful one moment and bracingly bold the next, and not unlike that of Tupac Shakur, an inspiration for "Sunset Baby." Those are the best moments in this work by playwright and two-time NAACP Image Award winner Dominique Morisseau. There is whip-smart dialogue and depth in the three-character play, which appeared off-Broadway last December after a London premiere in 2012. Director Keith Garsson has, for the most part, laid it out beautifully.
What "Sunset Baby" does best is show the no man's land between lofty politics and the painfully personal, when the polemic is pushed from its high moral ground and dragged down to the grit of day-to-day existence.
Primal Forces Productions presents Sunset Baby at Andrews Living Arts Studio through December 21, 2014.

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