The New Millennium Howard Players‘ mission is to present “Compelling, cathartic theater from the African American cultural perspective that will touch spirits, challenge thought, move, inspire, evoke and spark discussion long after the curtain goes down.” Their first production, part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival called For the Love of Oscar, A Dramedy, by Hope Lynne Price-Lindsay, evoked passion, at times touched my spirit, and gave the audience a lot to cheer and laugh about and gasp.
Although the playwright borrows from Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and other plays with similar themes and devices, the writing needs work, Even slow scene changes (and there were many) couldn’t take away from the enthusiastic performances of the eager and energetic cast, directed by Playwright Price-Lindsay.
We’ve seen it before: a wife dies of a terminal disease and the husband is still grieving, and as he begins a new relationship, he starts calling her the name of his deceased wife. The new girlfriend starts seeing the ghost of the dead wife (And she’s the only one who sees her ) and all hell breaks loose.
Nothing new, but due to the exceptional performances of Annette James and Sowande Tichawonna, the lack of depth in the script was overshadowed by their fine work. Barbara El Wilson showed some spunk as Aunt Helen, and Antoinette Greene-Fisher was convincing as a nurse that cared for Lily, the late wife.
And of course there is the predictable confrontation between the dead wife, played with a lot of anger by Monique Caldwell, and James. Fortunately, it wasn’t a total ‘shout-fest’, and contained some much needed humor, and at times, it was very moving.
This is a good beginning for The New Millennium Players and I look forward to their future performances. I would consider another look after a new workshop or two, and after some new rewrites.
For the Love of Oscar, A Dramedy ended its run on November 1, 2015 by The New Milennium Players, performing at The Blackburn Center at Howard University – 2397 6th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information about their season, go to their website.