Chadwick Boseman’s (1976-2020) electrifying, meteoric, candescent depiction of “Levee”, a high strung, volatile trumpet player in August Wilson’s (1945-2005) award winning “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”, is pragmatically the “Virtuoso” of male performances this year; his physical diminishment, resulting in the magnification of a role, regardless of his health, written in the stars; crushingly grand is his every sentence, lithesome movements; he imbues the troubled, talented, psychologically abused Levee with sanctioned hubris; profoundancy lacerates the soul, as he saturates one scene following another, with splendor.
Gertrude Pridgett (1886-1939), Ma Rainey, “Mother of the Blues”, characterized with distinction by Viola Davis. Ma leaves her comfort zone in Columbus, Georgia to record with her band in Chicago, 1927: entitled, testy, demanding in unfamiliar terrain, she’s a nuisance, until she belts, from a bottomless aptitude, her “Black Bottom” inimitable lyrics. Viola Davis, once again soars in a Wilson production after winning an Academy Award for “Fences”. Wilson, in league with Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965), James Baldwin (1924-1987) grasped and beautifully, presciently painted the heart of the African American experience; with realistic, raw intelligence, lacking sensational embellishments, these playwrights stunned with their ingenuity, clairvoyance, in recognizing these stories must be shared universally. Director George C. Wofle takes “history’s leftovers”, creating a sublime “moveable feast”.