Main menu

Pages

Theater Review: JB3 Entertainment Presents World Premiere of Touching Historical Drama "Althea & Angela"

Groundbreaking athlete Altair Gibson, the first black man to win a Grand Slam tennis title, is brought to life in Todd Olson’s JB3 Entertainment world premiere production. Althea & Angeladirected by James Blackmon.

Olson’s play tells the life of Gibson (Jamie Horne), from their first meeting as rivals to their run in doubles for British tennis star (who has been banished from the British tennis scene for being Jewish) Angela It unfolds through the lens of an enduring friendship with Buxton (Mallory Fisher). Champion and old age. Stephen Wolseley provides important support as a representative of everyone else in the world, usually men, and often (but not always) terrible people.

Compressing that history into 70 minutes without a break, Olson selects the scenes and lines we know with razor-sharp precision. The snapshots the audience gets, though mostly centered on his 1956, flash back and forth, deftly alluding to multiple worlds that intersect across two lives.

With so much concentration Althea & Angela Its performances make the difference between life and death, and it’s hard to imagine two better takes on these iconic characters. Horne sears her performance into the audience’s consciousness, transitioning smoothly between the quiet strength and power the character is known for and the equally vivid warmth and generosity. Her spine-chilling lines like, “Losers say ‘possible but difficult’ and winners say ‘difficult but possible'” made her straighten up a little bit. I stretched out and took a seat. Seeing a hard-fought victory against the backdrop of racist comments plays with the ambiguity of how internalized it is and how accurate and depressing coverage it is. It humanizes Gibson and never loses sight of the accuracy of what she does. For example, her lovely singing voice during one of her glimpses of Gibson’s post-tennis career as a cabaret singer.

Fisher slips past Angela Buxton as a person and as an all-knowing narrator, burying both the rest of her life brilliantly, and is tasked with doing it brilliantly. She makes Buxton an independent figure, not just a foil to the more imposing Gibson, but with a light touch that betrays her depth of experience. The chemistry between Fisher and Horn clicks and turns like beautiful clockwork.

Blackmon’s rendition makes the most of its electrochemistry with a handful of props and a mostly bare stage, aided by Kurt Mueller’s evocative lighting. He uses sports physicality and performance to pulsating effect. With an interesting play between the distance of being in the stands and the almost uncomfortable intimacy of being in their heads, he staged a tennis match with the characters facing the audience, while he played the rest of them. lives in a similar circular fashion. with some kind of movement.

Althea Gibson titled her memoir to live like thatand without escaping from the sufferings and conflicts of that life, Althea & Angela It perfectly reinforces that adage. It’s an exciting piece of history and well-told. We take a deep look at the reasons and rewards of connecting with each other. And it reminds me how beautiful it is to be alive.

Althea & Angela It runs through August 27th at MadLab, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm. For tickets and more information, visit his website at: jb3entertainment.com/altheaandangela.

Althea & Angela – Photo courtesy of JB3 Entertainment