DUAL CRITICS REVIEW: A Seat at the Table at Players By The Sea Theatre

PLAYERS BY THE SEA THEATRE REVIEW

Jacksonville Beach’s Players by the Sea staged the World Premier of “A Seat At The Table” on June 1st, 2018; the production runs through June 10th. The theatre is located at 106 6th Street North in Atlantic Beach, Florida. For reservations call 904-249-0289 or visit playersbythesea.org.

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The evening began with Claire Cimino, Vice President of the PBTS Board of Directors, introducing Suzanne Hudson-Smith, the theatre’s new Executive Director, to the audience. She has an impressive background in theatre production, management and development. She will indeed bring her special form of leadership and creativity to the theatre and the beaches community.

The production was a special one: the third edition of the PBTS “New Voices” program, which gives aspiring playwrights the opportunity to receive professional assistance during development of their work, followed by a full production. The program is rigorous and has given audiences a look at entertaining new plays with new ways to approach theatre. Two plays were staged last year. The first, by playwright Kelby Siddons, an educator and actress, was “Madame Bonaparte,” a historical play. The second, by playwright Drew Brown, an Academy Award winning film producer and actor, was “Sentences,” a poignant story of prison experience.

PBTS A Seat at the Table

For this season, the focus of the PBTS program was “A Voice of Color,” and Jacksonville native J[p2p type="post_tag" value="Marcus Smothers"]ames F. Webb III[/p2p] was selected as this year’s playwright. His play, “A Seat At The Table,” is an in-depth look at a family’s life, and has ten characters. And for the audience, it is a lesson in nontraditional casting.

James Webb graduated from Jacksonville University in 2015 with degrees in screenwriting and film. In January 2017, his play “The Final Decision” was staged at FSCJ’s Kent Campus. He has also been on stage locally as the Lion in “The Wiz” at Jacksonville’s Ritz Theatre in 2016.

“A Seat At The Table” is a one-act play that takes place in the dining room of a family home and in the small office of a construction company. Most of the action takes place at a lovely dining room table, which will remind avid theatergoers of other shows featuring a table as the center piece; A.R.Gurney’s “The Dining Room Table” and Donald Margulies’ “Dinner with Friends,” a Pulitzer prize winner, come to mind.

The play opens with the Churchill family sitting around the table. Roderick (Kemust Sims Sr.), the head of the family, announces that after many years of dedicated and demanding work, he is retiring from the successful construction company he owns. He and his cherished wife Ella (Regina Torres) are going to spend their leisure time enjoying life together. Rodney (Marcus Smothers), the oldest son, will be taking over as boss; Erick (Rashaud Sessoms) his younger brother, will assist him with office work. After a quick blackout, the scene shifts to the office, where it is obvious that Rodney, while a good worker on job sites, does not have management skills. He and Erick come to blows over business details which eventually lead to fisticuffs and Erick taking over as the manager.

The plot thickens when someone with the firm becomes involved in selling drugs, and the action gets physical during the second half of the production.

Other named characters include Marcus (Michael G. Robinson Jr.), a rather shady friend of the family and Frank Luchi (Ron Veasey), a police detective. Rounding out the cast in various roles and listed as ensemble members are Arden Trusty, Zac Stone, Francis Scoblick, and Ashley Harris.

The play is well cast and the actors were line perfect. Director Webb worked with New Voices Director Kris Jackson and dramaturges Eugene Lindsey, Shauntel Bennet-Robinson, and Maya Dartiguenave in the development of the show. The set was designed by Aisha McBurnie, who also displays some of her art work on the set as well as in the lobby’s art gallery

Players By The Sea, PBTS A Seat at the Table

Advisory: This is an adult play and we do not recommend it for children due to language and gunfire.

We applaud the Marshall Family for their sponsorship of this play and the Lazzara Family Foundation, which is going to match donated dollars up to $10,000 through June 30th.

Additional creative team members included Joycelyn Petty (Stage Manager), Jereme Raickett (Production Manager), Samantha Catone (Lighting Designer), Lee Ann Thomas (Costume Designer), Nate Cimmino (Sound & Technical Director), and Claire Cimino (Properties).

All are welcome to Players’ June 19th open house to kick off the new season – it’s a meet and greet affair and food will be served.

 

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

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