Signature is two for two so far in their three-play season of August Wilson plays: as with the previous Seven Guitars, this production is just about ideal. There isn't a weak member in this ensemble - everyone here knows how to make Wilson's quasi-poetic language and his jazz-riff rhythms sound like speech, and all the performances are in scale with the others: no one is trying to unduly dominate. Wilson's deceptively relaxed pace (which disguises the play's tight structure, while it creates the illusion that we are watching life lazily happen before our eyes) can be frustrating in a bad production, but in a superb one such as this the deliberate pace is thrilling. It lets us breathe and appreciate each moment, not fully aware of the play's sneaking, cumulative emotional impact. The play, which takes place in a run-down diner in the Pittsburgh slums in the '60s, has been directed (by Lou Bellamy) with sustained intelligence and a keen eye for detail. After the intermission, the smell of diner cooking fills the theatre: I didn't mind, but the truth is that this production is so vivid and immediate that I didn't need it. They had already convinced me I was in that diner with them.
Also blogged by: [David] [Christopher]