A vibrant production of “Let There Be Love”
A Vibrant Production of “Let There Be Love”
American Conservatory Theatre is presenting a pulsating production of Kwame Kwei-Armah’s “Let There Be Love” running only until May 3rd. This sterling production rips into such hot-button issues as race relations, immigration, abuse, sexual identity, aging, medical care and dying with dignity.
Alfred (Carl Lumbly) is an obstinate Caribbean old man who, having lived in Britain since 1963, seems to have ended up hating everyone. He hates West Indians, white folk, the wife who has long since abandoned him and his two worthless daughters. He reminds me of Archie Bunker is the hit television series “All in the Family”. He is in frail health after he has fallen and he has been kicked out of his elder daughter’s home. Back in his own home in Willesden Green, Alfred rails against the world, like a little West Indian King Lear.
One of his daughters Gemma (Donnetta Lavinia Grays) a lesbian who has never quite settled down and is ever short of money starts stopping by again ignition tensions with practically each word she utters (She asks “Do you like anyone, Dad? Her father bellows “Yes, Me”). She has arranged for her father a social service worker to tend to him three days a week. She is Maria (Greta Wohirabe), a white, young Polish immigrant still learning English facing her own demons with an abusive boyfriend. At first he gives Maria a hard time telling her she is not needed.
Alfred soon warms up to the vivacious Maris in a non-sexual way and even later invited her to share his five rooms flat to get away from her offensive boyfriend. In return he ask her to assist in a suicide since he has just learned that he has only five months to live and those last several months will be in a great deal of pain. He wishes death on his own terms. The playwright hits profound heights in this look of human nature and beautifully maneuvers the plot surely.
The two hour plus drama is splendidly performed. Carl Lumlby is brilliant as Alfred. He offers a fine mixture of grumbling belligerence, snarky humor and unspoken feeling. He vividly uncovers the character’s conflicting emotions and memories in judicious detail. He offers a musical West Indian accent, capable of adding enchanting, extra syllables to works.
Greta Wohirabe gives a pitch perfect performance as Maria. She has an absolutely convincing Polish accent. She inhabits the role with such natural detail that the character niceness and almost crazy fixation on Ikea never seems forced.
Donnetta Lavinia Grays rounds out the three character play beautifully performing the role of Gemma. You can tell that she is the daughter of Albert as she skillfully plays the role as a gifted and stubborn woman.
Maria Mileaf directs the action with a keen eye and ear for timing. He ensures the audience that any spek as forcefully as dialogue. Lydia Tanji costumes strike the right note: Russell H Champa’s lighting is expertly nuanced and the contentedly scruffy living room set by Daniel Ostling has a strongly communicative edge. Bart Fasbender’s sound designs keep the sentimental Nate King Cole numbers impending with is a needed soundtrack for a play about letting go of the past.
“Let There Be Love” closes May 3rd at the American Conservatory Theatre Geary Street off Union Square, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-749-2228 or on line at www.act-sf.org Coming up next is Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” opening on May 20th.