SEASON 15 - 2008
Nevis Mountain Dew
April 11 - May 18, 2008
by Christopher Gross
For its 15th season, Towne Street Theatre is reviving SteveCarter’s [sic] ‘Nevis Mountain Dew,’ as part of its Black Classics Series. It’s an appropriate choice. Not only is Carter a living playwright (he’ll turn 80 in November 2009) worthy of the study, his play itself is about life, death and reviving those who become trapped in denial’s dead-end. Producing/Artistic Director Nancy Cheryll Davis directs this worthwhile production, with the two strongest cast members being Dan Martin and Michael Craig Patterson.
Carter’s world is nicely confined to one home, a two-story building owned by Everelda (Veronica Thompson), in which her brother, Jared (Martin), is vegetating on an iron lung. Nathaniel Bellamy’s set satisfies the challenge of compressing two floors into a level-and-a-half of stage platforms, and allows Jared to remain both center stage and out of the playing area. The incapacitated Jared, once a vibrant and powerful Alpha male, is married to Billie (Nancy Renee), who, understandably, seeks other avenues for ease the challenge of being married to one so constricted. She is, however, conflicted, which produces the strange relationship with Boise McCanles (Shon Fuller) that drives the play’s arc. McCanles and his friend Lud Gaithers (Freddie DeGrate, alternating with Mark V. Jones) have arrived at the home to deliver the new television Billie has purchased for Jared’s birthday present. Rounding out the group are Everelda’s friend Zepora (Teressa Taylor) and her boyfriend, Ayton (Patterson).
A big appeal of ‘Nevis’ is the absence of white people and the pleasure of seeing a dramatic environment set far downstage of the ever-present backdrop of racism. Written in the ‘80s and set in the ‘40s, that backdrop is understood. The subtle intra-racial distinctions of African-Americans by way of slavery and those who emigrated from the Caribbean (as carter’s own home was divided by an African-American father and Caribbean mother), are quietly wrought. The evils here are not human = impersonal fate and its agent in the form of drugs that have claimed Ayton’s sons. The play is about life, loss and at what point our dedication to each becomes pointless.
Director Davis manages the tricky sightlines well, keeping the cast moving around the stationary iron lung (an impressive piece of scenery on a theater budget, credited to Will Lidderdale’s Set Shop. Of the other actors, Taylor’s Zepora is the standout. This is a lovingly rendered production of an interesting and rewarding play that brings focus to a deserving writer.
This is Sandy, who brought Steve (in a wheel-chair) to your performance. It was excellent, and I would like to see more. Please keep me on your e-mail list and Steve and I would like to attend any performances you and your company put on.
I so rarely do this because well. . . I so rarely (hate to say it) see amazingly noteworthy theatre!
I saw this show last night and was really blown away by the high production values (no duct tape anywhere), the acting - touchingly poignant, the direction- wonderful and the script-AMAZING! !! This is an undiscovered gem that hasn't even had a Broadway run even though it is as powerful as many Pulitzer winners.
So many times in the past years I wish I was able to get back hours watching theatre that was sub-par. This is NOT one of those times. This is truly a wonderful piece of theater at ANY price!! Believe me it is so worth seeing.
So please if you want to once again have yourself inspired see "Nevis Mountain Dew". It will be well worth your time and may just keep a few quality artists around in theatre just a bit longer.
Lincoln Center’s Directors Lab West Steering Committee
It was terrific to see the show...and see some of my favorite actors at work. The play is an actors' dream. Congratulations on a lovely production.
89.3 KPCC-FM and 89.1 KUOR-FM
Southern California Public Radio
I hadn't seen this play before nor read the script so it was a "hoot" for me--very nicely done--kudos to U & your crew/Nancy R & all the actors were great--thank you for extending the courtesy--that is always much appreciated--theatre in LA takes all sorts of efforts of shear will...Thanks for moments.
Development Director/Robey Theater Company