Human Race Theatre’s Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous weaves a tale of self-discovery and the enduring power of the performing arts. The show, written by Pearl Cleage, runs October 26- November 12. It is the story of women forging a life in theatre, exploring when and how to pass the torch.
Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous unfolds with the return of the larger-than-life actress Anna Campbell (Keisha Kemper). After years of self-imposed exile in Amsterdam, Anna and her steadfast friend Betty Samson (Kyndra Dyanne Jeffries), receive an invitation to revive their controversial performance piece, “Naked Wilson.” (Both an homage to August Wilson’s works and a response to some of his characters.) Her return sets the stage for an exploration of art, identity, and the boundaries we push in the name of self-expression.
Keisha Kemper is charming and dramatic as Anna. She is a diva, acting and dressing like one. The character is a great one–and there appears to be no limits on how big one can play her.
Kyndra Dyanne Jeffries finds strength and sanity in Betty, who can both calm the turbulence Anna leaves in her wake and embrace it.
Bryana Bentley gives a powerhouse breakout performance as Precious “Pete” Watson. Bentley brings a dynamic energy to the production and I hope this is just the beginning of seeing her on local professional stages. Pete, an aspiring artist whose previous experience lies in the adult entertainment industry, is a character whose audacious spirit and fearless ambition echo Anna’s youthful advocacy. Anna does not recognize this, but Betty and Kate do.
Marva M.B. Williams-Parker as Kate Hughes, gives a vibrant performance, as the Spellman theatre geek turned producer. She is full of energy and just the person you want to trust to run your tour.
These are four amazing actors cast in this show, and it is exciting to see new faces.
Cincinnati’s beloved Torie Wiggins adeptly guides the actors through the emotions and ideas that Cleage’s script demands. Her pacing is like the thunderstorm featured throughout–beginning slowly, and building with thunder and electricity. It calms, then builds again. She ensures we see that these women clearly love each other and revel in the power of art.
Cleage’s witty and sharp dialogue engages the audience in laughter and self-reflection. There are many powerful big moments, as well as quieter ones, including when Anna pines about how 30 years have gone by: “I want it back–time to figure things out. Not everything, just a thing or two.”
Some of the costume pieces are unforgettable. Anna’s wardrobe is richly over-the top but 100% perfect. These audaciously gorgeous clothes sent me to Amazon to search. Thank you, Kristie Osi, Costume Design. The set is a sophisticated Atlanta hotel room, courtesy of Dick Block, Scenic Design. The rest of the creative team includes John Rensel, Lighting Design; Matthew Tibbs, Sound Design; Sarah Gomes, Props and keeping it running is Carolyn Fast, the Production Stage Manager.
Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous is a drama with comedy that challenges its audience to confront their preconceived notions about art and the individuals who create it. It reminds us that art is a fluid interpretation, within the context of our current society as well as the time a piece is created. I recommend it for everyone. I especially recommend it for artists, theatre people and those wondering when to retire. It will leave you both entertained and in thought.
If you are a fan of works like August Wilson’s rich character studies, the intellectual prowess of “Master Class,” the celebration of culture in “Crowns,” or the vibrant discussions of art in “Art” and “Red,” then Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous is a production that should not be missed.
Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous will play in the Loft Theatre in downtown Dayton, October 26 – November 12, 2023. Tickets are on sale through the Dayton Live box office, 937-228-3630, or online at www.humanracetheatre.org
Free Ticket Partnership
Artistic Director Emily Wells and Executive Director Kappy Kilborn announced an AMAZING partnership with Dayton Metro Library in the opening night speech. Anyone in the Dayton area can use their library card to get tickets to the show–or any of Human Race’s remaining productions this year. Click on the link for more details.