“Over the Edge or You Done Me Wrong,” performed by the Touring Theatre of North Carolina, utilizes southern voices to explore the depths of the human psyche. While the “Over the Edge” actors displayed emotions that are generally considered inappropriate for public consumption, their audience provided the space to explore this.
The black box setting and the sparseness of scenery created an intimacy between performers and audience. The piano accompaniment, provided by Wayne Seymour, accentuated the mood of the performer, while creating aural scenery that aided the actors in pushing the emotional boundaries of their characters.
The production opened with the sketch “Big Beautiful,” penned by Pamela Duncan whose written works focus on working class southerners. The monologue, performed by Kay Thomas, followed the thoughts of a woman, Cassandra, addressing her conflicted emotions at the altar. Clad in a white wedding dress and clutching a bouquet of flowers, Cassandra struggles between what is expected of a bride and what she wants to do. Cassandra’s thoughts waver between her pressing emotional dilemma, and giggling observations of the people in her midst.
On Friday, Thomas drew the audience into Cassandra’s story, forcing them to address what societal expectations conflict with their desires. Thomas’s performance excellently highlighted the conflict, despair and ease of performing a task that is counter to societal norms.
“Mad at Miles,” written by Pearl Clegg, chronicles the internal conflict of a woman whose love of Miles Davis’s music conflicts with her rage at his domestic abuse of women. Charetta Shaw Bradby, who performs “Mad at Miles,” openly expresses her rage at Miles Davis and herself, while mourning the fall of an idol and the continued abuse of black women. As a means of ingraining the notion in the audience’s mind, as well as her own, Bradby’s character repeats the cry that Miles Davis should be held responsible for his, “self-confessed violent crimes against women such that we ought to break his records, burn his tapes and scratch up his CDs until he acknowledges, and apologizes and agrees to rethink his position on The Woman Question.”
At the end of Bradby’s skit, her character is left with the emotional burden of questioning how we can continue to praise artists whose works might be used to trap their victims of domestic abuse into an ongoing cycle. “The Golden Era of Heartbreak,” written by UNCG professor Michael Parker, chronicles the grief stunted journey of a man whose wife has left him. Performed by John Kernodle and Stephen Gee dives, the piece depicts a struggle between self-pity and emotional survival.
Kernodle portrays a man whose struggle with the loss of his wife removed his desires to conform to the expectations set for a person in his situation. He brilliantly portrays a man whose belief in a flat world coincides with his dull perspective, now that his wife has left him.
Stephen Gee, whose character is referred to as Darren, portrays a stranger who has come to teach Kernodle’s character the lesson of soberness and self-reliance. Clad in a suit, tie, and hat, Darren directs the actions of Kernodle’s character from the asphalt pavement of the grocery store to the lapping water of the Albemarle Sound. Yet Gee’s sparse words and Kernodle’s ongoing tale of this unusual night cause the audience to contemplate the veracity of Darren’s corporeal form. “Graceland,” written by Quinn Dalton and performed by Camilla Millican, details the revenge of a woman on her husband’s ex-boss. Sitting at what the audience must imagine to be her vanity, Millican’s character details the lengths to which a woman will go to win a fight.
Enraged by the sexual passes made by her husband’s scrawny ex-boss, Millican’s character finds revenge after years of patience. Millican’s performance of the monologue paired with the nonchalant manner in which she applies her makeup during the skit, portrays the lack of remorse held by Millican’s character.
These four vignettes allowed both the actors and audience to explore emotions which are typically suppressed in a public sphere. As one audience member noted, “Mad at Miles” created a space for a black woman’s voice on women’s rights to be freely expressed and heard.
As with “Mad at Miles,” the three other performances amplified the emotions of people whose voices on these particular issues are typically confined to private settings. “Over the Edge” pushes both the actors and the audience to explore whether societal norms have the right to confine and suppress people within their emotional stereotypes.
The Touring Theatre of North Carolina presented “Over the Edge” on Friday Feb. 19 and Saturday Feb. 20 at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro. The Touring Theatre will reprise their production of “Over the Edge” at 8:00 p.m. on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 at the Carolina Theatre.
Categories: Features, Investigative, Uncategorized
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