Red Black and Ignorant
By Edward Bond
Directed by Jeremy Seeghers
Starring Daniel Cooksley, Sophia Anne Tretro, and Sean Kemp
Valencia College Theater
It’s the end of the world, and these folks know it. There are no more theaters; all we have tonight is a bunch of chairs set out in the grass in a concrete circle near the shrinking Econ river. Flashlights to illuminate the scene. Out of a rubble pile, The Monster (Cooksley) emerges. His face ashen, his words halting, he describes his apocalyptic life and an even worse future awaiting. We see his life: as a child humiliation rules. In the few times he isn’t ignored, he’s beaten and harassed. Spat upon and ignored, he eventually finds love and marries. His woman (Tretro) and he spawn a male child (Kemp). Children are expensive, and they must sell the boy, but the only buyer is wealthy and a tough Buyer. It’s sell or starve, and the boy enters the military, now the only functional branch of society. In the climactic scene he returns home with the mission of picking one person on his street and killing them in cold blood. Besides mon and dad, there are only the elderly couple on the corner. Decisions, decisions.
Florida weather is always a roll of the dice, but tonight turned out perfect. The occasional jet passed over head, blanking the text but adding to the tension. The mosquitos were down, cars with glass packs raced up on Highway 50, but we were safe in our small, hermetic capsule. Covered in grey make up and open sores, Cooksley looked like the last survivor of Hiroshima. His voiced halted and raced and he truly looked like he’d been in a low budget Sci-fi apocalypse. Ms. Treto offered the only soft position here; she was loyal and loving and innovative, just as any 1950’s sitcom mom should be. Jeff Williams played The Buyer; he wore a vest and might have been Gatsby’s stock broker. Finally, there was the gun toting Kemp. He stood firm, scared yet sticking to his training. My only complaint is even though he toted a prop gun, his finger was on the trigger way too often. Gun safety should never stop with theatrical props. Brutal, unique, and exhilarating, this is a don’t-miss show for its innovative staging, apocalyptic message and soft mirroring of today’s political landscape. Check the weather, and don’t forget your DEET. You won’t be getting any more of it after this scenario plays out.
For more information on Valencia College Theater please visit http:// http://valenciacollege.edu/artsandentertainment/Theater/schedule.cfm/