Table 8 is the place no one would want to sit in the fictional restaurant dramatized in Haley Brown’s play at the Redrum theater at Fort Fringe.
Through three scenes and accompanying music, the tragic drama, written and directed by Brown, shows the audience what happens when restaurant guests begin their chats at Table 8 then leave to return to daily lives, all of which are sparked by tragedy.
First at the table is a married couple whose son just got arrested. They are followed by the perfectionist businessman and his wife, who return home to a murder-suicide.
The final restaurant patrons at Table 8 include a nurse whose doctor telephones her to say her test results show she is HIV-positive.
The set consists primarily of a simple table, chairs and a bar behind it. A unique innovation is the way each scene begins in the restaurant, then continues on a screen beside the bar where we see the characters struggling with tough decisions.
The acting is hit-and-miss, with heart-wrenching, believable performances by the female leads but weaker ones by the restaurant staff.
By the early part of the second scene it becomes obvious the writer is a trio of strong female characters and the actresses playing those roles turn in outstanding performances: Rochelle Ford (Janice), Phaedra Rosario (Sheila) and Sasha Allen (Pat). Rosario and Allen both are experienced professional actresses. Ford is making her professional debut, playing the bad-tempered mother of a teenage boy facing prison time for selling “nonsense” on the street.
The support roles played by the waiter, waitress and bartender helped move the story along but sometimes were overacted.
The live music between scenes was reasonably professional, with the best performance by Ngozi Messam singing Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. She also performed a song she wrote herself called My Paradise. Both of them were in a style Brown referred to as “neo-soul.”
The cast of 11 seemed big for the small, roughhewn Redrum Theater. The audience was only twice that big during a Saturday afternoon performance.
Table 8 has 3 more performances through July 23 at Fort Fringe, 612 L St. NW, Washington, DC.
Tom rates this 3 out of 5
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