Had always been told what an amazing writer James Baldwin was and finally had the opportunity to experience this. Critics are spot-on. The production of his play The Amen Corner at the Norfolk Theatre Festival was amazing with the performances raw and insightful.
In the play a woman leaves her husband for the Lord becoming a minister. Ten years have past, a church with congregation has been developed and the trombone playing husband returns to see his wife and son. When this occurs the congregation turns on her. Rival factions take over the church as she grapples with the eventual demise of the returning husband and departure of her adult son.
While somber there was much levity sprinkled throughout the play. Baldwin is adept at this mix of wit and cynicism. The audience also proved instrumental with their amens, comments, and laughter added to the production.
All actors were in top form with Candaunn Jennette as Margaret having an amazing reach in the lead role, and the congregation villans humorous, rotten to the core, and accurately depicted.
Jalen Loft, David, gave a classic performance as a drunk, and Derek Savage, as Luke the returning husband, made you feel his pain.. And an additional hats off to Artistic Director Anthony Stockard, who richly deserves his many accolades as listed in the program.
The next production for the Norfolk Festival will be Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights from April 16-19. Unsure if seats are still available but check as it certainly will be another amazing performance.