By Yani Perez . . .
She’s Got Harlem on Her Mind —3 Plays by Eulalie Spence opened this week at the Metropolitan Playhouse. The evening includes three one-act plays. Eulalie Spence was one of the great writers of the Harlem Renaissance but her work was often unrecognized. This production aims to bring attention and merit to such a talented playwright.
The first play, The Starter, tells the story of T.J. Kelly and his girlfriend, Georgia, as they decide if they are ready to get married. Upon first glance, it seems they are fated to be together as he is a starter (an elevator operator supervisor) and she is a finisher (mending/ finishing seams as a seamstress). However, as their conversation develops, they find out more than they hoped for about the state of their relationship. The second play, Hot Stuff, is about a married entrepreneur who cheats on her clients and husband. True to its title, the protagonist is indeed hot stuff. The final play, The Hunch, takes audiences through relationship despair, infidelity and dissolutions. Mavis is planning to marry her new boyfriend, Bert. She has only known him briefly but feels this is the right move for her. Her ex-boyfriend, Steve is determined to bring to light the shortcomings of her fiancé. He does not stop until he discovers a truth that will break Mavis’s reality to shambles.
The eight-member cast, comprised of Eric Berger, Jazmyn D Boone, Dontonio Demarco, Déja Denise Green, SJ Hannah, Raven Jeannette, Monique Paige and Terrell Wheeler delivered a lively performance. The transition when characters were doubled-up was seamless. The cast was fully invested and engaging. Seeing the cast’s range as they sang and danced between plays when they set up for the next performance was a nice touch. Their musicality is tremendous and their energy is invigorating.
Costumes, designed by Jevyn Nelms, accurately and beautifully capture the era’s style. Vincent Gunn’s set design is picturesque and works well for all three plays.
These three plays were teasers of Spence’s work, leaving audiences wanting more. It would be great to continue to see more of her work produced. In the meantime, She’s Got Harlem on Her Mind: 3 Plays by Eulalie Spence will satiate and entertain.
She’s Got Harlem on Her Mind: 3 Plays by Eulalie Spence. Through March 12, at the Metropolitan Playhouse (220 East 4th Street, between Avenues A & B). Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission www.MetropolitanPlayhouse.org
Photos: Kat duPont Vecchio
Cover Photo: Déja Denise Green, SJ Hannah