David Allen, Special to thr Town Crier
When a play combines comedy, wit and stirring drama along with some great acting, the audience becomes enticed into the show. Pearl Cleage's "Blues For An Alabama Sky" now offered by TheatreWorks, has all the necessary ingredients to create that magic.
Set in Harlem in 1930 when the Depression stole the thunder from the literary and artistic possibilities of the Harlem Renaissance, Angel Allen (Kelly Taffe) a high-living Cotton Club singer with a dubious reputation, gets dumped by her gangster boyfriend and fired from her job in the same disastrous evening. Furious but undaunted, she gets smashing drunk but is rescued by her best friend, Guy (Colman Domingo), the wildly funny homosexual clothes designer who has spent years pulling Angel out of trouble.
Angel says, "I can't sing anymore. My heart is broken." Under those words is the fear that she, like so many Harlem families, will be thrown out on the streets. She moves in with Guy.
Two other characters enliven the drama: Dr. Sam (Anthony J. Haney), whose favorite expression is "Let the good times roll," as he down a few drinks with Angel and Guy. Sam works long hours delivering babies for poor women living in Harlem. He meets his new love interest in Delia (Andrea Kate Harris), the girl next door to Guy's apartment, who just happens to be a social worker driven by her dream of opening a birth control clinic in Harlem. She persuades a reluctant Sam into helping her. Haney has a fine command of facial expressions and body language that enhance his verbal comments.
Angel, discouraged by a so-called audition that was really a sham designed to make her the girl-friend lover of another gangster, says to Sam, "I'm looking for a job...let's get married." She flirts outrageously to seduce the next man in view, Leland, the religious innocent who sets the drama into high gear when he realizes that Guy is gay.
Brown, as Leland, never reaches out to the audience that has become so delighted with the comic interplay between Guy and Angel. Instead, he seems set up by the dramatist to be the stereotypical man of any color who is blinded by the strictures of his down home values and his concept of maleness. He, therefore, changes the tone of all other relationships and ultimately is the foil for tragedy.
"Blues For An Alabama Sky" plays at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Castro and Mercy, through September 21. For information and tickets, call 650-903-6000.