For this critic August Wilson has always been eloquent on the page, a bit wordy on the stage. This second in his 10-play chronicle of the African-American experience takes place in 1911, a bare 46 years after the Civil War ended. Wilson's vibrant characters are searching — for love, money, personal freedom or healing and spiritual salvation. Some, like boardinghouse owners Seth (Keith David) and his wife, Bertha (Lillias White), have found their place. Others, like their wild-eyed new tenant, Herald Loomis (John Douglas Thompson), have been irreparably damaged by assaults on their personhood and dignity. Directed by Phylicia Rashad, beautifully framed by John Iacovelli's atmospheric set, with its dark orange and gold hues and misty horizon, the production captures the warmth and passion of a subculture still richly imbued with the magic and myth of its African heritage. Some performances are capable, others outstanding. Chief among the latter are Glynn Turman as the community conjurer and medicine man for broken hearts, and David as his prickly, practical-minded landlord, a money-minded fellow with no time for mumbo-jumbo. Also noteworthy are White as Seth's unflappable spouse, who provides sustenance to all, and Raynor Scheine as the eccentric white peddler he banters with. While these seasoned actors take the material and run with it, others could use stronger direction. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m. (no perfs. May 21-24); through June 9. (213) 972-7353, centertheatregroup.org.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: May 8. Continues through June 9, 2013
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