Oscar E Moore

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A SOLDIER’S PLAY – the madness of racism in America

February 1st, 2020 by Oscar E Moore


At 80 years of age, playwright Charles Fuller is finally seeing his 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning drama A SOLDIER’S PLAY on Broadway.  At the American Airlines Theatre – a Roundabout Theatre Company production.  ONLY through March 15th.  I highly recommend a visit.

Originally premiering Off-Broadway by the Negro Ensemble Company in 1981 this powerful, raw and still pertinent play that resonates like a tsunami is done proud by director Kenny Leon, his creative staff and the casting of an excellent ensemble of actors.

Sometimes, most times unfortunately, the authors of fine work have to be extremely patient to reap their rewards.

And so here we are at Fort Neal, Louisiana, 1944 a U.S.A. segregated Army base where a company of black baseball players/soldiers await deployment overseas under the leadership of Sergeant Vernon C. Waters (David Alan Grier) a loud-mouthed, tyrannical, drunken lout who in the opening scene is murdered by an unknown assailant.

Captain Richard Davenport (a calm, confident and persistent Blair Underwood) has been summoned to investigate the murder much to the dismay of Captain Charles Taylor (a hyper Jerry O’Connell) who is shocked that a Negro could also be a Captain and does his best to thwart Davenport’s investigation.

Who killed Sergeant Waters?  In a riveting and tense two acts we get the surprising answer.  But not before Davenport, as our narrator, investigates and interviews the other soldiers who all had good reason to get rid of Waters.  Particularly the smiling guitar strumming Private C. J. Memphis (a fine J. Alphonse Nicholson) who Waters has a particular disdain for.

Mostly in flashback with some beautiful staging and singing of the blues by the soldiers in their bare bones barracks (Derek McLane) where they joke around and display their admirable bodies we are faced with racism not only of the whites for the blacks, but the vicious and vindictive black Waters for his black soldiers.

Originally deemed too revolutionary for Broadway because of its prophetic last line – “You’ll have to get used to Black people being in charge.” A SOLDIER’S PLAY has finally arrived in all its glory.  Fierce acting from everyone.

1 hour 50 minutes including one intermission.


Photos:  Joan Marcus

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