Br'er Cotton - Theatre Review

By Harrison Held

Emmanline Jacott, Dane Oliver, Jasmine Wright and Omete Anassi
"Br'er Cotton," written by Tearrance Arvelle Chrisholm is a timely, relevant and ambitious dramatic production directed by Gregg T. Daniel that's playing now at The Zephyr Theatre on Melrose. This is not a pretty story -- this is a truly tragic and heartbreaking tale about the dysfunctional Witherspoon family in Lynchburg, Virginia living in a world where racism and squashed dreams are all too common.

The show is as current as today's headlines. Yvonne Huff Lee is very likable as repressed, hard-working single-mother Nadine desperate to keep her family stable and above ground. Omette Anassi is terrific as her 14-year-old terribly misguided violent and militant son Ruffrino. Mellow grandpa Matthew is well played by Christopher Carrington. Ruffrino butts heads with everyone in sight and is on a truly destructive path fueled by his unhappiness and hatred. His father is serving a long-term sentence and Nadine is desperate to get him on the right path. Matthew identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr., while rebellious, defiant Ruffrino identifies with Malcolm X. They're polar opposites.

Ruffrino occupies his free time online playing violent video games where he has developed a friendship with an anonymous friend called Caged_Bird99, touchingly played by Emmaline Jacott. An earnest well-meaning white officer, played very well by Shawn Lee, who reaches out to the forlorn Nadine.

Very cool avatar figures are well played by Dane Oliver and Jasmine Wright. The rickety Witherspoon house is built on the cotton fields of past generations and every so often the house shudders as it sinks into the former cotton fields on which it is built, just as the Witherspoon family sinks too. The slaves of American past shed light on the history of the past generations of Lynchburg and further add depth to an already compelling production.

More information here. "Br'er Cotton" plays through October 29 at The Zephyr Theatre.

Posted By Discover Hollywood on October 23, 2017 02:48 pm | Permalink