Posted in #whatdoyouthink, actors, African-American playwrights, artist, based on a novel, based on a true story or event, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, brutality, chronicle, deep South, empowerment, ensemble acting, famous, film, Fox Studios, historical drama, history, honky, husbands and wives, KKK, meditation on life, movie, new work, opinion, poignant, race, racism, riff, sci fi, serious, serious subject, showcase, timely, TV, Valentine's Day

Serially entertaining

Actors and screen-writers are busier these days than they have been in some time. There are “streaming” shows, 100s of cable outlets producing both series and movies, and of course Hollywood and the Indie scene all requiring their talents and services.

We are the beneficiaries of all this production. We will be enlightened, entertained and excited by the films they produce.

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than binge watching Divorce?

Gifted, the movie with Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace, and not so incidentally Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, and Elizabeth Marvel, is touching without being maudlin. It is generally intelligent, with a sterling performance by young Ms. Grace, and until we saw it last night on HBO, I had not heard much about it.

The assignment for Black History Month can include the excellent Get Out, Jordan Peele’s genius defies and reinvents the “horror” genre. It should also feature a viewing of Birth of a Nation, perhaps both in its regressive D.W. Griffith 1915 version and Nate Parker’s 2016 “remake.” The contrast between a paen to the Ku Klux Klan and to Nat Turner’s slave rebellion may prove edifying. Add Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (although not our personal favorite) to your list of films for 2018. (In the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham expresses a different view, especially of Parker’s film.)

Art is meant to engender controversy, stimulate and even incense and enrage. We should not be passively diverted in its presence. It is here to help us ponder life’s (and history’s) biggest issues.

Thanks to films and serial dramas we have a lot to consider and enjoy. And we are treated to some terrific performances in the bargain.

Posted in drama, family drama, family secrets, funny-sad, James Wesley, molestation, poignant, secrets

Secrets Haunt in "Unbroken Cirlcle"

Aunt June (Eve Plumb) finally gets to read the will as the family looks on.
Edna (Anika Larsen), Patti (Juli Wesley), Bobby (James Wesley) and Ruby (Suzanna Hay) Photo by Bill Selby.

There is no such thing as a well-kept secret. In fact the secrets the family in “Unbroken Circle,” at St. Luke’s Theatre in an open run every Wednesday, have done a good deal of harm.

Aunt June (Eve Plumb), Cheryl (Lori Hammel), Bobby (James Wesley) and Ruby (Suzanna Hay) sit around the table trying to enjoy a family meal. Photo by Bill Selby.

James Wesley, who also stars as Bobby, has written a darkly comic, poignantly gripping play about a family troubled by their past. “Unbroken Circle” is moving, and unpredictable.

The family gathers after burying Travis, the father and grandfather that none of them, except perhaps Aunt June (Eve Plumb) much misses. In fact, his demise frees his wife Ruby (Suzanna Hay) of many burdens of care. Her daughter, Edna (Anika Larsen) comes back home for the first time since she ran away at sixteen. Bobby (James Wesley), her twin, can unburden himself of a life of failure and misery too.

Husband and wife Cheryl (Lori Hammel), Bobby (James Wesley) confront their daughter, Patti (Juli Wesley). Photo by Bill Selby.

Eve Plumb is very fine as the cynically pious June. Suzanna Hay stands out as the tough and  
protective Ruby. James Wesley is brilliant as the defeated Bobby. Lori Hammel is excellent as his wife Cheryl, as is Anika Larsen as the prodigal sister. The youngsters, Stacey Bone-Gleason as Cathy, who has just come of age, and Juli Wesley as the precocious and clever Patti, give memorable performances. In short, the ensemble are superb.

“Unbroken Circle” is an engaging, entertaining and touching drama about a family overcoming their troubled past. The direction by Jason St. Little and the sets by Josh Iacovelli make the most of the small space in which the play is staged. 

For more information, schedule, and tickets for “Unbroken Circle,” please visit