Pin It

Review: Seven Guitars 

Dalt Wonk on the Anthony Bean Theater's staging of one of August Wilson's best plays

click to enlarge stage_rev-1.jpg

August Wilson's Seven Guitars, recently staged at Anthony Bean Community Theater, shows us African-American life in 1940s Pittsburgh. The play is part of Wilson's decade-by-decade account of African-American life in the 20th century — a project that earned him two Pulitzer Prizess and other awards.

  Wilson takes his time, and after spending nearly three hours with the residents of Pittsburgh's Hill District, you feel you're part of the neighborhood. One of Wilson's particular strengths is creating intriguing, troubled characters.

  John Grimsley's tasteful set shows a run-down backyard with an iron water pump. A group of people are talking about a funeral for a man named Floyd. Some say they saw angels carry him to heaven and others scoff at the idea.

  The play is a flashback look at Floyd Barton (Roscoe Reddix), a blues singer and guitarist who recorded a hit song. But before it was released, he landed in jail on bogus charges.

  Louise (Gwendolyne Foxworth) is a sage and skeptical matriarch to the group. Canewell (Will Williams) and Red Carter (Sean Beard) were sidemen in Floyd's band. Vera (Coti Gayles) was left behind when Floyd went to Chicago to record his song, but he tried to get her back when he returned. King Hedley (Alfred Aubrey) hangs around and seems lost, complaining about money a recurring dream tells him he's meant to receive.

  Late in the play, the attractive and insouciant Ruby (Giselle Nakhid) arrives. She's pregnant and decides to sleep with Hedley and tell him he's the father.

  There are many moving scenes and a sprinkling of humor. There also are perplexing symbols, including a rooster who crows throughout the play — suggesting male frustration or displaced country dwellers in an urban landscape?

  Floyd's life was anything but easy. He stirs trouble when he tries to get his guitar out of hock to return to Chicago and record another song. It kicks off a series of bad consequences that leave Floyd dead.

  Anthony Bean directed a talented cast and elicited captivating performances. It's a long show, but it stays with you long after the house lights come up. — DALT WONK


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Pin It

Speaking of Seven Guitars, Anthony Bean Theater

Submit an event Jump to date

Latest in Stage Previews and Reviews

More by Dalt Wonk

Spotlight Events

  • Men on Boats @ Lusher Charter School
    Lusher-Fortier Campus, 5624 Freret St.

    • Through March 24, 8 p.m., Sun., March 25, 3 p.m., Through March 31, 8 p.m., Sun., April 1, 3 p.m. and Through April 7, 8 p.m.
  • Hogs for the Cause @ UNO Lakefront Arena
    6801 Franklin Ave.

    • Sat., March 24
    • Buy Tickets
  • The Dumb Waiter @ Fortress of Lushington
    2215 Burgundy St.

    • Sat., March 24
  • The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical @ Delgado Community College (Tim Baker Theater)
    615 City Park Ave.

    • Fridays-Sundays. Continues through March 25
  • A Streetcar Named Desire @ Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre
    616 St. Peter St.

    • Sat., March 24, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., March 25, 3 p.m.

© 2018 Gambit
Powered by Foundation