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Sweet Water Taste

a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Gloria Bond CLunie

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 5554

SHOWING : July 12, 2019 - August 25, 2019

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

All hell and a little bit of heaven breaks loose when Elijah Beckford, a prominent southern black undertaker, approaches his wealthy white cousin, Charlie Beckford, and demands to be buried in the “family cemetery.” When the two patriarchs go head to head, the wives and children are dragged into the fray, and the two families battle it out with comic consequences in this award-winning play.

Funny, irreverent and topical, "Sweet Water Taste" features some of Atlanta’s best actors and Horizon favorites in this Atlanta premiere. It’s a contemporary tale inspired by the antics of our ancestors and a controversy that has been raging for 200 years (think Sally Hemings/Thomas Jefferson). If you’ve loved previous summer productions from director Thomas W. Jones II ("Blackberry Daze," "Da’ Kink In My Hair"), you’ll be thrilled with this Southern ensemble story about two branches of a family tree unexpectedly carving out their future.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Thomas W Jones II
Elizabeth Beckford LaLa Cochran
Iola Beckford Jen Harper
Charlie Beckford Chris Kayser
Nathan Beckford Enoch King
Carrie/Bianca Beckford Brittani Minnieweather
Charlieboy Beckford Justin Walker
Elijah Beckford LaParee Young
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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The Well’s Dry and Something Dead Is in It
by playgoer
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
2.5
Gloria Bond Clunie’s "Sweet Water Taste" involves the history of two branches of the fictional Beckford family -- the white branch, represented by a redneck with airs who has happened to acquire the family manse; and the black branch, represented by a funeral director with an eye on a spot in the Beckford’s private cemetery. Conflict and death result. It’s a comedy.

Thomas W. Jones II has directed the show with lots of motion, much of it unnecessary and much of it in unison. The sitcom-like pace and broadness of the acting will not be to everyone’s taste. For a play where death is a centerpiece, there is a tremendous lack of human emotion. When wailing and mourning as fake as Jen Harper’s is on display, you begin to suspect that there’s a reason -- that a supposed death has been staged. Nope. It’s just that the human and the comic have been completely divorced from one another in Mr. Jones’ direction of the piece. It’s all played for cheap laughs.

Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay have created a massive set, as would be expected given their track history. At the start of the show, we see parachute silk covering a hospital bed in a tent from the ceiling, with a wrinkled sky blue curtain behind it. Walls on either side look very rough and unfinished. After the first scene, the curtains are whisked away and we see an elegant, multi-level living room. Mary Parker’s ambitious lighting design adds atmosphere to the scenes and illuminates the aisleways of the audience area when action spills into them. It’s still obvious, though, that the backdrop of the living room is a curtain behind french doors rather than a walkway to the fabled gardens in the backyard.

Perhaps the most successful technical element of the production is Dr. L. Nyrobi Moss’s costumes. There’s a couple of stunners for Brittani Minnieweather in after-life sequences at the start and end, and the costumes for the live folk work quite well too. The costumes add to the colorful nature of the production. Chris Lane’s sound design and Alexis McKay’s props are fine.

Performances are all over the board. LaParee Young, as the funeral director, has the broadest acting style, with Enoch King amping up his game to inject energy that stops just short of being over-the-top. Chris Kayser and Justin Walker are fine as father and son, and LaLa Cochran gets the "big speech" that is supposed to tie things up with its symbolism. Ms. Minnieweather is quite good, while Ms. Harper seems slightly detached from the proceedings.

It’s clear that Mr. Jones has had a tight reign over the production, and he has gotten his actors to do all the comic bits that he knows will get laughs from his target audience. It doesn’t seem that all the actors are completely invested in his vision, though, and the blatant comic shtick doesn’t mix well with the deaths in the show. The phrase "anything for a laugh" might have been devised to describe this less-than-satisfactory show. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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