Through October 1
THE MAGNOLIA BALLET Alleyway Theatre
It was writer William Faulkner who commented ďThe past is not even past.Ē
As a writer from Mississippi, he was talking about his state when there were probably still some Confederate veterans around and the stateís flag included a Confederate battle flag until 2020.
The rural Georgia of Terry Guestís ďThe Magnolia BalletĒ is probably about the same, a town where both the Black and the White fathers talk about the way they were beaten by their fathers because they, in turn, had been beaten by their fathers.
The White teen in the story, Danny) (Shawn Adiletta), wears a Confederate uniform jacket made for some re-enactment from the early years of the 20th Century, when the ďLost CauseĒ myth was hardening into fact.
He shows it to his close Black friend, Ezekiel Mitchell VI (Nigel Reynolds), who doesnít like it much but knows enough about their Southern town not to push the issue.
Early in the show, Zekeís father Ezekiel V (Richard Satterwhite) talks about how ingrained the family violence is because itís just the way things are.
Satterwhite also plays Dannyís father, the White overnight cop in the town, who also beats Danny because thatís the way things are done.
There are two wild cards, both Danny and Ezekiel are gay and still grappling with it and playwright Guest has the Apparition (Dennis Wilson), who fills in as all sorts of personalities from the past of the two families, giving characters someone to talk about issues.
Both fathers know passing domestic violence down to the next generation is a bad idea but itís so ingrained in them and in their family structures they canít resist.
The core of the show are Danny and EVIís sexual issues, something which doesnít go over well with the dads, although they arenít quite sure whatís going on.
Sex is one of those adolescent things and parents are never comfortable with that.
As is so often true, Satterwhite dominates the show, partially because the role is written that way and also because heís such a great actor.
We donít see enough of him on stage in season, probably because he has an outside life and career.
The biggest problem with the production is Reynolds, who shows real promise as an actor IF he could be heard and he, so often, canít.
Thereís no reason for that in the Alleyway.
Itís not that big a performance space.
Director Carlos R. A. Jones has been around and must have been aware of the problem but possibly couldnít figure out what to do and putting mikes on everyone in the Alleyway would have been silly.
Maybe by next weekend, there might be a solution but there is no excuse because Satterwhite and Adiletta are perfectly audible.
ďThe Magnolia BalletĒ is an interesting play and worth seeing but if nothing has been done about Reynolds, choose the front row.
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