By Kelsey Blackwell
The Bluest Eye, a play adapted by Lydia Diamond from Toni Morrison’s best-selling novel, is a timeless story about friendship, yearning, and coming of age.
The characters were energetic and fun, but breathtakingly honest. When Moriah Williams played 11-year-old Pecola, her youth was real. Her pain put the audience in pain. Audience members grabbed each other’s hands when she was rejected by her mother (played by Tierra McMickle). We held our breaths during the rape scene between Pecola and her father. Toni Morrison’s masterful writing and Jonathan Able’s incredible performance made Cholly a dynamic character. He was the perfect villain: disgusting and revolting, but also tortured and sympathetic.
The captivating performance was accompanied with great design work. The set was simple- they went for a bare-bones effect so that the actors and writing was thrown in the forefront. Absolutely necessary set pieces were carried on and off the stage by the actors. The light design helped move the story along beautifully, and the transitions were seamless. The most impactful lighting moments happened at the end of the show. When Pecola finally gets her blue eyes, the projection in the background shows the image of a single blue eye. It is eerily reminiscent of the Eye of God reminding Pecola that she can never hide from who she is. Another haunting moment is the last stage picture, when Pecola bundles up in a ball on the stage. A bright cobalt blue spotlight is cast over her: she becomes her obsession, literally taking on the image of a blue eyeball.
This play by North Carolina Central University is an excellent choice for KCACTF region 4. Though it is set in the 1940s, the plot elements remain relevant and important. The audience can relate to those awkward feelings of self-consciousness that haunt the preteen psyche. All of the right elements came together to create a world that was hard to pull away from.