A SOLDIER’S PLAY IS A MASTERPEICE THAT STANDS THE TEST OF TIME.

The baseball team rejoices after a victory. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

When you enter the theater there are three clear playing spaces on stage. To the extreme left are a door and wall unit with a table and two chairs next to it. Center back there are two wall panels with two green benches in front of them.  A stool sits between both benches. At the extreme right is another doorway which leads to the outdoors. A green bench sits against a wall panel that is attached to the doorway. The majority of the stage is clear for the actors to play. Period music is being pumped into the theater to set the mood of the deep south around WWII.

When the play starts Sergeant Waters  (GIL TUCKER) is drunk and on his knees. He cusses at someone off stage and then he is shot two times. Blackout. Then a white Captain Taylor ( BUCK HINKLE) appears with a black officer and five enlisted men who are being searched for weapons. Captain Taylor ( HINKLE) tells what happened to  Sergeant waters (TUCKER)  and that he is dead from a shot to the chest and one to the head. He says there are no suspects and warns them of spreading rumors that the Klan did the crime. Captain Taylor (HINKLE)  leaves and the troops relax and talk. Henson (HORACE GLASPER) complains that he kissed Waters (TUCKER)  ass to get his stripes back. Smalls (PJ MAX) is upset Waters (TUCKER ) is dead but the rest don’t care. They didn’t like Waters (TUCKER)  and are happy he is gone. Next Captain Davenport (CHAZ REUBEN)  appears on the stage. He has been sent to investigate the crime. He is a lawyer and Captain. Davenport (REUBEN)  meets Captain Taylor (HINKLE)  and they talk. Taylor  (HINKLE)tells Davenport (REUBEN)  that if he knew he was going to come to the base he would have canceled the investigation. Davenport( REUBEN)  is sassy and stern and insists he has a job to do and he is going to do it. Captain Taylor (HINKLE)  storms off. Another black man appears and fills Davenport ( REUBEN) in on the goings on around the base and how people felt about Waters (TUCKER).  During times Sergeant Waters (TUCKER)  appears and acts out scenes as part of a flashback. It is clear that Waters ( TUCKER) was a bastard and probably deserved to be killed but this was not important. What was important was getting to the bottom of this murder mystery. Davenport ( REUBEN)  leaves no stone unturned to solve this murder.

Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

This production is tight and fast-paced. If you blink you will miss something good and important. There are big ideas play out here. Souls are being examined and sacrificed or saved here and it is humbling. Charles Fuller is a master storyteller and this piece proves it. He deals with sensitive issues of racism, hates both outer and inner and consequences of your actions; roosters coming home to roost, so to speak.  The cast, in general, is great and some stand out more than others._BUCK HINKLE plays Captain Taylor well. He gives as good as he gets. He is strong with sharp edges. CHAZ REUBEN plays Captain Davenport as a force to be reckoned with. He is short in stature but his attitude is ten feet tall. He is a dog after a bone and he can not be stopped. JIMMY GARY, JR  as C.J. is effective to shine a light on simple colored folks that get the wrong end of the stick most times. Though he is likable, you feel sorry for him as well. GIL TUCKER as Waters is a tortured soul. He is also of small stature but looms large. He personifies internal hatred. He shows us all the troubles he tries to hide from the world. ADRAIN WASHINGTON as Peterson is the typical “Angry Black Male”. He is full of fire and he just doesn’t know whom or where to burn down. He is played unapologetically. You might not like him but you see where he is coming from.  A SOLDIER’S PLAY IS A MASTERPIECE THAT STANDS THE TEST OF TIME. You must rush down to 80 St. Marks Place and experience Charles Fuller’s gem of a piece of theatre.

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