Baltimore Center Stage’s “Skeleton Crew” is a wonderful submission into the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Women take the helm of this strong and emotional play, written by acclaimed playwright Dominque Morisseau and directed by Nicole A. Watson.
Four talented actors bring Morisseau’s insightful words to life in this realistic drama that thrust you into the world of the last auto manufacturing plant left in Detroit. How you work the line at the plant and how you walk the line in your community are two strong deciding factors on what road you will head down if this last manufacturing plant is closes.
Each character has their own role to play, and each actor wove their lines and their movements into a beautiful dance that is relatable, relevant and thought provoking.
We first meet Faye, played by Stephanie Berry. Faye is a 29-year employee of the plant and the union leader. Faye is strong, quick witted and set in her ways. She is also the glue that binds the other characters together, and she feels the responsibility to keep them all together. Berry has no problem with showing all sides of Faye, and she does so with ease and believability. Berry knows Faye inside and out.It is evident in how she walks across the stage, her facial expressions. Even when there is a quiet moment on stage, Berry never drops Faye’s expression, one that is mixed with frustration, strength and hope.
If Faye represents the closing time of retirement, then Shanita, energetically played by Brittany Bellizeare, represents the opening – the beginning of adulthood, with all the new responsibilities but the hopefulness of many possibilities. Shanita is heavily pregnant, and Bellizeare had no problem convincing me of that. Bellizeare, as Shanita, conveys a strong woman who takes great pride in her work, and although there are some trust issues, Bellizeare lets the audience know that Shanita is willing and capable to raise her baby on her own.
Gabriel Lawrence as Dez is the twenty-something man: brash and negligent of the rules. But he is also loyal and looks to Faye for guidance to make sure he makes the right decisions in the end. Lawrence is fantastic. He has an amazing ability to show Dez’s vulnerability even with his swagger and engaging smirks.
Reggie, played by Sekou Laidlow, is the young supervisor at the plant, having gotten hired on the recommendation from Faye. Laidlow’s Reggie is trapped by having to be the supervisor to people he grew up with and consider family, in a workplace shrouded in secrets and uncertainty. Laidlow does an exceptional job in projecting Reggie’s conflicting emotions.
Mariana Sanchez’s set of the break room is impressive and extremely realistic; I could hear the clicking of the time clock counting down during the quiet moments. The factory windows on one side of the stage is another example of how real-life the set is.
The sound design by Darron L. West surrounds you with the noises of a factory, and the lighting by Burke Brown also drew me in to the factory environment.
“Skeleton Crew” does revolve around Detroit in the 2000s and the automotive industry, but I saw the importance of love, kindness and hope in all our lives. Each character has their own role to play, and each actor wove their lines and their movements into a beautiful dance that is relatable, relevant and thought provoking.
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 15 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.
“Skeleton Crew” runs through March 4, 2018, at Baltimore Center Stage, 700 North Calvert Street in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 332-0033, or purchase them online.