Alphaues Green, Jr. in Double V. Photo courtesy KY Black Repertory Theatre.
Derby Mine 4
By Larry Muhammad
Directed by Kathi E. B. Ellis
A Kentucky Playwrights Workshop Commission
By Larry Muhammad
Directed by Clyde Tyrone Harper
Review by Leila Toba
Entire contents copyright © 2018 Leila Toba. All rights reserved.
Derby Mine 4 starts out with a pair of coal miners trapped underground after a methane explosion. Becky (Megan Adair) is a new employee, under the watchful eye of Dan (Casey Moulton), a youthful but prolific member of the industry. Their interaction quickly shows that Dan is a playful and aggressive flirt, who makes unwanted, advances towards Becky, who reacts with distaste and rancor. It is later revealed that Becky is something of a bigot, who makes unsavory remarks about people of color, and Dan is ironically liberal in his views of society. This uncomfortable setting leads to animated discourse, which is both unsettling and humorous.
Given the intensity of the language and material, Adair and Moulton make sense of the antipathy and beautifully create characters that are disdainful yet lovable. Moulton plays up the moments of humor in his character with honest ease. Adair displays keen vulnerability, yet mightily stands her ground as the only female trapped with men, but also trapped by men. Proctor (Phil Lynch) enters as the middle ground character who immediately tries to educate the two about the importance of Unions, and brilliantly establishes himself as a paternal figure to all characters. He is charming and sincere as he does his best to bring the troops together, though he wears the heavy crown of conscience throughout this show.
Lee, (Brian West) commands the stage as “The Boss” and comes to terms with his own frustrations and biases and overcomes them all to show what it means to be a true leader. The show really comes to life as he enters the stage, and he is unwavering in his goal to ensure the safety of his crew.
Good chemistry, and a solid set design by Eric Allgeier, and a witty script make this show a delightful surprise that makes all of our everyday trials seem small compared to the importance of life.
Double V tells of a history of Louisville that has not been given enough attention. Alphaeus Green Jr. is bold and vibrant as Frank Stanley, an unsung hero of the Negro Press and publisher of The Louisville Defender during World War II. His character is badgered and bullied by members of multiple government agencies.
Green is steady, yet good-natured in this role. While he is given much dialogue and information to pass to his audience, he succeeds admirably while tackling the tough subject matter. He manages to find humor and humanity in a character which has been forced to endure so much. Stacey Hopson (Mildred) and Marcus Fisher (Nate) are his perfect stage companions as they remain vigilant while still being candid, and took what seemed like small moments and made sensations of them. They were a pleasure to watch and I look forward to seeing more from both of these actors. I really appreciated the dance between these characters, as well as the biting moments With Jeff McQueen, who was very clear in his mission to create further suffering for the already struggling newspaper.
Both of these shows present a dialogue that I would like to see more of in theatre. I had never heard of Frank Stanley, Sr. before and was eager to learn about him in seeing this show. There were moments in Double V when some of the dialogue was hefty and almost too much for me to follow, and I wish the show had been longer, so I could gain a further grasp on this period in Stanley’s life. It’s stories like these that represent the true history of greatness in our city, and all I can say about that is that I want more. And for this reason, local playwrights like Larry Muhammad are a jewel in the crown of Louisville Theatre. There are only two more chances to catch these shows at The Bard’s Town, so do not miss them!
Derby Mine 4/Double V
February 1, 2, 3 @ 7:30 pm
Kentucky Black Repertory Theatre
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, KY 40205
Leila Toba is an actress who has worked with various theatre companies in Louisville.