Joe Turner’s Come and GoneColumnists, Kim's Kronicles — By Buddy Sampson on May 21, 2013 at 1:27 am
By Kim Webster
LOS ANGELES CA – It’s 1911, Pittsburgh PA, and the setting is a kitchen filled with the aroma of a hearty breakfast. Bertha (Lillias White) and Seth (Keith David) run a rooming house filled with a range of tenants; some locals and some who have migrated from the south. Herald Loomis (John Douglas Thompson) and his daughter Zonia (Skye Barrett) have traveled from the south in search of Zonia’s mother Martha (Erica Tazel). Not the most friendly of tenants, but Herald is a caring and protective father to his daughter despite his personal burdens. During their stay, Zonia makes friends with nearby neighbor Reuben (Nathaniel James Potvin). Bynum (Glynn Turman) is comical at times but he also possesses a spiritual and somewhat mystical knowledge of life. Molly Cunningham (Vivian Nixon) is the fancy dressing, care-free lady in the house much to the contrast of Mattie Campbell (January Lavoy) who’s in search of true love. Jeremy Furlow (Gabriel Brown) is young, works hard, and befriends Mattie. Frequent visitor Rutherford Selig (Raynor Scheine) buys craft goods from Seth and is known as a finder of people. This unique mix of personalities unwinds into an interesting story.
The origin of the title of August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” comes from the recording by legendary blues artist W. C. Handy. It is said that women would sing the lyrics “They tell me Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Got my man and gone…he come with forty links of chain” in reference to plantation owner Joe Turner illegally enslaving their sons, fathers, and husbands in the early 1900’s. Directed by Phylicia Rashad, this production takes the audience into the lives and emotions of a people venturing from a post slavery south, and those in the north experiencing urban life while in search of their destiny.
“Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” is now playing thru June 9, 2013, at the Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center, 135 N Grand Ave Los Angeles, CA 90012. This is one you don’t want to miss!