RS24 feels as though it takes place in Washington, DC in an era when the city was still known as Chocolate City and Egyptian Musk incense wafted through every record store and head shop in the city.
The main character has a reverence for “vintage” music – think Donny Hathaway, Earth, Wind and Fire, Phyllis Hyman, James Brown and Sun Ra. Noticeably missing is any affection for the era of disco. While the names of more recent musician celebrities are cited, the walls are plastered with the album covers from vinyl records by people whose song lyrics inspired and renewed the spirits of the Black people that these same artists came from.
RS/24 closes February 9, 2020. DCTS details and tickets
This brief piece concerns itself with what inspires us, how we lose that inspiration and how we can gain it again. Karma, a streetwalker walks into a late-night record store and encounters the store owner who is undergoing his own kind of crisis. Their conversation over shared appreciation of music, free-floating anxiety, missed opportunities in life and how music assuages those losses constitutes the play.
The performances are strong in their own styles, Mr. LeBouef maintaining a conversational low-key television realism approach to the material and Ms. Kazi Jones as Karma bringing a bravura focus and color to almost every line she speaks and note she sings. Larry E. Hull made a believable pimp and Jennifer Lee (Lynn Horton on second performance I saw) brought a tenacious vigor to the role of Karma’s soror lady-of-the-night that enlivened the role and the scenes. Jennifer Lee brought a strong singing voice to her role of inspirational grandmother.
The slow pace of the show, however, was difficult to overcome, sometimes undercutting the efforts of the performers.
RS24 by Clayton LeBouef. Directed by Clayton LeBouef. Co-Directed by Cheryl Hawkins and Ella Davis. Cast: Clayton LeBouef, Kazi Jones, Larry E. Hull, Vaunita Goodman, Jennifer Lee. Lighting Design, John Alexander. Set Consultant, Megan Holden. Costume Design, Luqman Salim. Sound and Visuals Design, Tewodross Melchishua Williams. Stage Manager, Lynn Horton. Assistant Stage Manager, Zukeh Freeman. Photography, Jabari Jefferson. Resident Technical Director, Demetrius Cole. Reviewed by Gregory Ford.