Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2023: "Baldwin's Last Fire"


Show: 20

Category: MYSTERY

By: Black Lives Black Words International Project

Written by: Reginald Edmund

Location: Theatre in the Round

Summary: Historical fiction about acclaimed American author James Baldwin solving a mystery of missing children in France.

Highlights: James Baldwin solving a crime? Why not, it's Fringe! The play is cleverly written (by Reginald Edmund), weaving in the themes of Baldwin's writing as well as some of his words. We open in a garden in Paris, with James Baldwin (played by veteran theater and film actor Harry Waters Jr.) writing and narrating the story. His caregiver Park (Jake Quatt), who shares the narration duties, attempts to get him out into the city, where an African woman approaches him for help finding her missing child, one of many. Even Baldwin recognizes the ridiculousness of an American writer trying to solve a crime in France, until Park convinces him he could use his notoriety and influence to help. So begins our adventure, with the ensemble (Jacob Hellman, Matt Saxe, and Ashe Jaafaru) playing multiple characters. The creative storytelling includes a large rectangular cube made of what looks like metal pipes, but must be something much lighter, as the cast moves the structure around to represent a car, a door, a window, and any number of other ideas, draped with large pieces of colored fabric. It's a compelling story, well told, and a fun imagining of another kind of life for a well known historical figure.