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‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’ - Review

August Wilson Still Packs a Dramatic Punch

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‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’ - Review

Ernie Hudson

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

In Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, August Wilson takes us in the hearts and heads of a culture dispossessed.

What This Show Is About

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, a Broadway revival of the August Wilson drama, takes place in Seth Holly’s Pittsburgh boarding house. The transient nature of the boarding house is a fitting image for the collection of dispossessed African Americans passing through there. Many have left the south and discrimination of 1911 in search of opportunity in the north.

Bynum, an elderly conjurer, has found his song and has the power to bind people together. Herald Loomis and his daughter, Zonia, are looking for his wife, who left him when he had been enslaved by a Southern bounty hunter.

It is through Herald’s interaction with Seth and the boarding house residents that Herald learns he ultimately must remain crippled by his past or find his own song, as Bynum did, and then find true freedom.

What You’ll Like About ‘Joe Turner’

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone is an excellently realized portrait of a culture in motion. Cut loose from Southern moorings, these African Americans seek freedom from the literal and psychological enslavement of the past and seek to carve a life in which they can enjoy both independence and some inner harmony.

August Wilson’s monumental 10-play cycle takes us decade by decade through the black experience of last century. Joe Turner is a fantastic installment, mixing work-a-day life with visions and miracles. It gives actors an opportunity for stellar performances.

Ernie Hudson, a well-known screen and television star, is outstanding as Seth. Chad L. Coleman, as Herald, radiates an anger that fills the theater.

Who’s Who and What’s What

Bartlett Sher directed this Lincoln Theater Center production. He has been a busy man the past few years, directing The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific and Awake and Sing, all on Broadway. His touch is deft. The “juba” scene in which the boarding house residents dance and celebrate, led by the Holy Spirit, is outstanding.

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone also stars Marsha Stephanie Blake, Michael Cummings, Aunjanue Ellis, Danai Gurira, Andre Holland, Arliss Howard, Amari Rose Leigh, LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Roger Robinson.

Where and When

  • Belasco Theatre
    111 West 44th Street
  • Show Times and Tickets
  • Previews: March 19, 2009
  • Opening: April 16, 2009
  • Closing: June 14, 20009
  • Run Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes (including intermission)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Advisories:Herbal cigarettes
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