As the Two River Theater enters the fourth successful season into presenting August Wilson’s plays, it proves introducing Wilson’s stories was one of the best things the theater has done to bring more diversity into its surrounding community. This year The Two River Theater opened its season with an eye opening and powerful play by August Wilson entitled Seven Guitars. Not only did it start off the 2015/2016 season, it was also the directorial debut for actor, now director, Brandon Dirden. Brandon Dirden is a veteran at Two River having starred in the world premiere of Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine and in Topdog/Underdog, in which he starred opposite his brother Jason Dirden under the direction of the play’s author, Suzan-Lori Parks.
Seven Guitars is apart of Wilson’s 10-part century cycle in Hills District section of Pittsburgh, PA that explores the beauty and the struggles of everyday living for black Americans. Seven Guitars, the first of the 10-play series, takes place in the 1940s. And just like his other plays, takes the audience on a journey of the unfortunate realities black Americans had to face while telling a story.
In this play cycle, Seven Guitars is a music story that captures the essence of community that surrounds around the characters Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton (Kevin Mambo), a Pittsburgh bluesman with one hit record and eager to return to Chicago to make another. His dilemma is that his drummer Red Carter (Charlie Hudson III) and harmonica player Canewell (Jason Dirden) have little interest in returning to Chicago, and his former lover Vera (Christina Acosta Robinson) is even more opposed to the proposition.
Unlike many of Wilson’s other plays, Seven Guitars has a central theme on family and community where in most scenes, the characters are sitting around catching up or as some would say “catching the breeze”, so to speak. A conversation of good jokes and laughs but also turns into some tense fiery moments that spark insightful dialogue.
And Brandon Dirden’s brother, Jason Dirden, plays Canewell and his wife Crystal A. Dickinson as Louise, which shows it more than just a family affair beyond the stage.
While our previous reviews gives you an in-depth description of the plot, we encourage our readers this time than to rather read about the play, to go get the August Wilson experience yourself. If you want to learn about rich history and culture, with an explosive plot on the lives and trials black Americans, Seven Guitar’s is your play. Seven Guitars is a rich music drama, where we see people balancing life and their dreams. And that is : everybody has a time coming.
It runs until October 4th at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. For more information, please visit trtc.org