Sweet Water Taste
by Carl F. Gauze
Written by Gloria Bond Clunie
Directed by Dawn Monique Williams
Starring Michael J Asberry, Gannon McHale, Avis-Marie Barnes, and Anne Hering
Well, this is a dark comedy if I ever saw one. Nathan Beckford (Lindsay) plans to expire and move to the Beckford family plot when he dies. Only problem is his race. While Nathan may well have some Beckford blood, Charlie Beckford (Gannon Hale) won’t have him as an eternal neighbor, arguing race still count in death even if civil right laws say otherwise. After all, it’s a private family cemetery. Charlie’s health motivates him, he’s on a strict “nothing tasty” diet after his recent heart attack. The pair meet in Charlie’s mansion. They schmooze, they squabble, and then Nate plays his trump card and succumbs to heart failure after a snack of unapproved ribs and corn bread. At least he died with something tasty on his lips. Charlie joins him soon enough, and it’s left to their respective wives Elizbeth Beckford (Anne Herring) and Iola (Barnes) to sort out the seating plan. And with the two old cranky guys off the table, the younger people can get together and eat the leftovers and come up with a mutually unattractive solution to the dead bodies still emoting from the after life. Racism may never die, but all individual racists do.
It’s a broad comedy, with the comic effects amplified by story skating on the edges of civil rights and American civil power structures. Everyone here on stage has an agenda, even if its just keeping up an impressive flower garden. Nathan has dug up a legal technicality and it willing to support it with a DNA test. Charlie has dug in like only an old man with money and high status in a town with no status can. Their wives try to reason with them, but old guys don’t change there minds easily. Ask my wife. But the fun part of the story is both males are really the same deep down with a love of bourbon and corn bread and ribs. Soul food – the great greasy equalizer. I admit I went into this show with some apprehensions, the Orlando Shakes January productions are often a bit…proper. But this comedy rocks as it pushes and pulls at stereotypes and prejudices that ought to be antiques. It’s a great start to a new year that could really use anything great to happen anywhere.