The Power of One

Four stars

Indiana Repertory Theatre Upper Stage; directed By Richard J. Roberts

The IRT is determined, it seems, to hook half the children who see The Power of One on activism and the other half on stagecraft. In a charmed one-woman show, Milicent Wright first bounds on stage as slave-born Harriet Tubman, famed “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, then transforms herself into beauty mogul C.J. Walker, and concludes as civil rights leader Rosa Parks. The 80-minute piece, first developed by the company collaboratively 10 years ago, spans a century of African-American struggle by zeroing in on how three distinct personalities faced oppression and changed the world. Wright easily wins over young audience members with the joyful brass that spirited Tubman away from slavery and dared her to return south to free a thousand slaves and spy for the Union. Likely, Wright has a tougher time engaging fidgety minds with her nuanced portrayals of the fortitude that took Walker from sharecropper’s daughter to millionaire philanthropist and the bottomless bravery that moved soft-spoken Parks into a dangerous spotlight for justice. If the kids don’t understand it yet, at least they will remember it, thanks to numerous visual details (from button-perfect period costumes to the shadow of an unseen city bus) and key audio clues (from early Negro spirituals to the lonely drip of a jail cell faucet). Director Roberts, Wright and their team (Scenic Designer Fred M. Duer, Costume Designer Christine Joern Martin, Lighting Designer Besty Cooperider-Bernstein and Sound Designer Todd Mack Reischman) spread out their wares lovingly, to entice their audience and honor their subjects. Through March 8; 317-635-5252.

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