Intimately arranged seats around the Kranzberg Arts Center Gallery were filled to capacity and more chairs were brought in for the final showing of Tony L. Marr Jr.’s Time for a Change in this year’s Fringe. The limited space available for the actors to perform in was not a hindrance for the four-actor cast; it was quite the contrary. The close proximity was riveting as you saw the spittle fly from the mouths of enraged actors as they performed. You could feel their energy as they swept by you. Using the narrow paths around the audience to step around you, they present their story in a way that brings you into the action.
The story itself, written and directed by Tony L. Marr Jr., was not original. It was a story we have all heard before, but it is an important story that needs to be heard again and again. It’s the story of how the system was created by white Americans for white Americans. How African Americans continue to be oppressed and mistreated by the system.
The strength of Marr’s play rested in the presentation. He focused on a variety of familiar stories from the 1960s, beginning with the kidnapping and murder of a young man for harassing a white woman. The play then follows the trial of the murderer and the boy’s aunt and uncle as they decide that they need to do more, especially after the murderer is released. The story then follows the couple through the Civil Rights movement to the present day and how situations have not improved.
The acting of the cast was sensational. Lydia Baker was the calming voice and yet she delivered several powerful speeches in the play and did so with style and grace. Moses Weathers played several characters in the play, but it was his role as the uncle and the spirited exchanges with John Singer that really brought the play to life. Several times the two men argued in such a way that I wondered if the animosity was real.
Madelyn Boyne fed into the feel with a perfect aura of a privileged white woman. The seriousness of the play was broken only once, and that was when John Singer appeared on stage and was introduced as President Kennedy. The humor came not from the fact that Singer looks nothing like JFK, but from the very passable impersonation, he delivered of JFK’s voice.
Time for a Change may not be breaking new ground as a play. But it is another voice for the change that we need in our country. And we can never have it said too many times.