Hadley Players Cry Uncle
"Uncle" is the story of a Georgia baker who finds himself the victim of urban renewal. To Uncle (performed by both Zaria Griffin and M. Younger Roberts), his bakery represents his lifeâ€™s work and a part of the communityâ€™s history since the bakery had served the community throughout the civil rights era.
"Uncle" directed by Henry Miller, marked the Hadley Players return to the St Philip’s Community Center, located at 207 West 133rd Street in Harlem, after a long period of renovation. Audiences can find the production every weekend at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays until December 14th.
"Uncle" is the story of a Georgia baker who finds himself the victim of urban renewal. To Uncle (performed by both Zaria Griffin and M. Younger Roberts), his bakery represents his life’s work and a part of the community’s history since the bakery had served the community throughout the civil rights era. As a result of that, Uncle and his wife Millie (Carmen Mathis) did their best to solidify their bakery as a solid entity on the block and as an essential part of history by attempting to gain Landmark status.
Millie is the dough that kneads the family together. Her astute sense of observation allows her to see when some folks are filled with sugar while others aren’t all spice; such as in the case of Sam. Sam has proven to be both long time family friend and short-term foe.
In the writing of her play, Eleanor Herman touches on the importance of the past and the need to make room for the new, a delicate balance at best. This is deftly demonstrated between Uncle and his lawyer son (played by Charles Miller and Larry Floyd) throughout the play. Afraid of losing his bakery, Uncle asks his grown son Joseph to return home and help him save his business. Uncle doesn’t want change he wants things to remain as they are. Joseph sees the handwriting on the wall and makes alternative plans.
Plans he hopes will not only shore up his father’s business and retirement but will enable his father to eventually pass over the reigns to his nephew Hezekiah (Juan Loney) who has been patiently learning the business from his uncle in the hopes of one day inheriting it, preferably in the very near future. Uncle promised his nephew that one day the bakery will be his but in Uncle’s mind the nephew is never quite ready. However, not to be deterred and sensing his uncle’s hesitancy to let go, Hezekiah cast his eye toward the future and makes preparations to establish a bakery of his own, if indeed, his Uncle, takes too long in passing down the reigns.
William Jay Marshall’s portrayal of the slimy scheming politician Sam was right on target as he wiggled, squirmed, lied and charmed his way out of every situation. Sam benefited from the Urban Renewal sweeping through the area thus attempted to con Joseph into some unsavory deals sensing that Joseph was young, ambitious and determined to make a name for himself in political circles. A former childhood friend of Uncle’s, Uncle sees the snake that Sam is but unfortunately cannot convince his son there is an asp in their midst.
Suddenly a City inspector shows up at the bakery seemingly determined to find something wrong. Mr. Collins (Kevin Kean Murphy) had inspected the bakery in the past and never found it unfit but this time he insists there are several violations and decides to shut the bakery down a day before Uncle is to go to Court and find out whether he was granted Landmark status. Uncle’s refusal to accept the violations ended up getting him arrested by Deputy Blue (Chauncey deLeon Gilbert) the day he was to report to Court.
This play is about honoring the past while making room for the future.
"Uncle" leaves to the audience’s determination how gracious one must be in the winning and/or how gracious in the loss. It suggests that one should understand there is a time for everything: a time to hold on, a time to let go, a time to win, a time to fail, a time to wreak havoc and a time to cry "Uncle."
For tickets and further information about the play call 212-368-9314 or 212-360-0799.