Head of Passes is playing at The Public Theater located at 425 Lafayette Street. It runs two hours twenty minutes with one intermission. The play closes on April 24, 2016.
Phylicia Rashad won a Tony Award in 2004 for A Raisin in the Sun and was nominated for a Tony Award in 2005 for Gem of the Sea. She is best known for her role as Claire Huxtable in the sitcom The Cosby Show.
Robert Joy is known for his role in CSI: New York from 2004-2013.
The play premiered at the Berkeley Reparatory Theatre on April 10, 2015.
The place is a house near the Head of Passes, where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico. The time is “the distant present”.
Crier (Kyle Beltran) is walking around the room with a large bowl of potato salad. His father Creaker (John Earl Jelks) reprimands him for not putting the potato salad on ice. Crier mind is on the singing he will be doing at Shelah (Phylicia Rashad) surprise birthday party that night.
Shelah comes down the steps from the second floor of her house. She is having difficulty breathing and is coughing hard. Shelah sits down in the front polar and puts down her bible on the table next to the chair. As she is talking to God it starts to thunder. We can see the rain coming down in front of the window; the living ceiling is leaking water.
Creaker comes in with a bucket to catch the water. But the leaks are now coming out in several places.
Shelah thinks she has gotten her family to visit for an informal get together.
Mae (Arnetia Walker) is the first person to arrive. There is tension between them but they hug.
Meanwhile Creaker and Crier try to contain the water that’s coming through the ceiling in a lot of places by putting buckets, vases and towels down.
Aubrey (Francois Battiste) is her first child to arrive. He is wet from the water from the hall ceiling.
When Shelah mentions she has invited his sister Cookie (Alana Arnes) to the gathering, he gets upset.
Spence (J. Bernard Calloway) is her other son. When he arrives they tell him since he paid for someone to fix the roof, he should go on the roof to see what he can do to stop the leaks. It seems he only paid them half of the money for the job.
Dr. Anderson (Robert Joy) arrives at the house, upsetting Shelan. Her son invited him to the party. She asks him not to tell her kids about her health. She had planned to tell them that night not knowing that Aubrey has planned a surprised birthday party.
When Cookie arrives no one is around except her mother. She is skittish and wants to leave. She has some waiting for her in a car outside. Cookie tells her she needs some money. Shelah tells her to go to her bedroom up stairs and take the money out of her pocket book. However the pocket book is next to the chair she is sitting on. Cookie steals the jewelry from the jewelry box. When Aubrey finds out he sets out to find her and get it back.
In the second act Shelah spends the time talking to God.
I’m not telling you what happens or what we learn about the family, you will have to see the show.
This is a deeply moving story of faith, regrets and family secrets.
The cast does an outstanding job. Phylicia Rashad is brilliant in the role. She took my breath away especially in the second act.
If I could, I would give G. W. Mercier an Obie and Drama Desk Award for the most awesome set design I have seen in any show.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
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