Gertrude Jeannetteâ€™s A Bolt From The Blue
Ms. Jeannetteâ€™s play "A Bolt from the Blue" is a play of discovery and self-discovery and is well staged by a cast of talented performers which include Taconna Ancrum. I enjoyed being party to the unraveling of this entertaining play with all its twists and turns.
A Bolt From the Blue written by Gertrude Jeannette, founder of the Hadley Players, and directed by Patricia R. Floyd will be moving from its long time home at Democracy Prep Charter School, located at 207 West 133rd Street in Harlem, and resurrect itself at the Harlem School of the Arts, located at 645 St Nicholas Avenue (141st Street) from April 3 through April 19th for its Friday/ Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m. and its Sunday performances at 2:30 p.m.
The Harlem School of the Arts will become the new Hadley Players Manhattan home until further notice.
This reviewer got to see the play before it left Democracy Prep and what an entertaining afternoon it was. I almost felt like I was back in 1946, the era in which the play took place. It was a time so much different than today, yet in many ways the same. A time when a young woman’s morals were expected to be pristine and a gal had very little choice but to lie about her past.
Leona Mills (Cecilia Foreman) had kept her past secret for a long time. Secrets buried so deep she had kept them hidden from her husband (played somewhat haltingly by M. Younger Roberts) and daughter Helen (Ericka Lee). Leona had built a successful life for herself working as her husband’s receptionist in his medical practice. And, the young girl she once was had given birth to a wiser and more sophisticated woman.
What does one do when they are no longer the person they once were? When as a youth and at the darkest time of her despair, someone reached out and rescued her at the price of her innocence and idealism. This was so for Leona. Yet, because of that person, Leona achieved her brightest light and greatest accomplishment. It was because of this light that Leona found the courage to change her circumstances and in doing so change her life.
Now, later in life, Leona was proud of her accomplishments and the older doctor whom she married. Despite his age, Leona had grown to love her husband. She loved her life and especially loved her free spirited daughter. The doctor had provided a middle class lifestyle for Leona and her teenage daughter and life couldn’t have been more blissful. Then like a bolt out of the blue, her past showed up to threaten all that Leona had built and the cards she so carefully constructed began to tumble in ways that Leona could not fix unless all that she had hidden was revealed.
Living in Queens, Leona had nurtured a somewhat sheltered life. She had sheltered herself from thoughts of the past until the day the past strode into her husband’s office like a dark cloud. At first, she pretended she didn’t recognize the past but it recognized her in the form of a man named Joe Howard. Of all the medical joints in the whole wide world, Howard had strode into hers crushing all the strides she had made over the years. Seeking a remedy for his damaged knee, Joe brought with him some dark places in Leona’s past that she couldn’t shake off so readily.
Joe had a hold on her that threatened to destroy Leona and everyone in her family. Howard, a slick hustler, was a man with a shady past. His appearance bolted Leona back into another time, a time of youthful errors, mistakes that held her prisoner and left her yearning to be free of Joe Howard. Eggleston played the role of Howard to perfection. He was very believable as the ruthless hustler who felt that Leona had robbed him of something valuable, something he wanted back, even if he had to blackmail her and take from her the masterpiece they had crafted together. Joe accused Leona of stealing from him and he intended to get the stolen object back at any cost. His insistence was pushing Leona to the brink of murder.
Fear gripped Leona and she found herself lying to everyone. She was so consumed with irrational fear that she feared she would lose her husband. As memories of her youthful indiscretions came flooding back, Leona became fearful that her daughter’s occasional wild ways would cause her daughter to repeat the same mistakes she had made. Although, her daughter had friends and benefits Leona hadn’t had in her youth, life, nevertheless, has a way of designing the same traps. Even Alvin, Helen’s steadfast friend, dance partner, and unrequited admirer, couldn’t tame the adventurous teenage spirit that made Helen want to grow up fast. No, not even Alvin could keep Helen from teetering on the edge or following in her mother’s footsteps. Something her mother was terrified could happen.
Ms. Jeannette’s play "A Bolt from the Blue" is a play of discovery and self-discovery and is well staged by a cast of talented performers which include Taconna Ancrum.
I enjoyed being party to the unraveling of this entertaining play with all its twists and turns. I liked it and I think you will, too. Catch it at its new home at the Harlem School of the Arts. You will be glad you did!