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Hard Bargain Players A Soldier’s Play

By • Aug 30th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller
Hard Bargain Players: (Info) (Web)
Hard Bargain Ampitheatre, Accokeek, MD
Through September 7th
2:00, with intermission
$10/$8 Students, Seniors
Reviewed August 24th, 2013

A Soldier’s Play, set in 1944 at a segregated U.S. Army Post in Louisiana, won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A black Sergeant has been murdered, and most of the soldiers believe the Klan was involved, while officers on the base disagree. Tensions run high as a black officer is assigned to investigate, much to the surprise and shock of the white officers on the base.

A Soldier’s Play isn’t a murder mystery where you’re given clues and have to figure out who the murderer is. Instead it’s a heavy piece giving different points of view of race relations. Are black soldiers only good for playing baseball? Can a white captain take orders from a black captain? Can whites ever accept a black man for what he is?

All of the actor’s performances were splendid, with Terry Spann excelling in the role of Captain Richard Davenport, the investigator of the murder. Spann shifted the character from slightly unsure of himself to very assertive as he interviewed the men on base. Cristopher Dinwiddie as Sergeant Waters, the murder victim, was effective as the unlikeable sergeant. Craig Hower as Captain Taylor was credible in his interactions with the men under his command, even as he was unsure how to deal with Captain Davenport.

Director David M. Thomas handled the locker room humor in the barracks scene and the violent scenes quite well. The story is told through the use of flashbacks as Captain Davenport interviews the men. The men being questioned blended into their flashbacks smoothly.

The simple set (David M. Thomas and Randy Sena) served the script well, allowing for quick scene changes and allowing us to focus on the people. Kathy Mead’s no-frills costumes were attractive and functional. April D. Weimer’s lights were effective, although occasionally were too bright during scene changes on the inactive portion of the stage.

Despite the inherent problems of the Hard Bargain outdoor amphitheater (jet engines drowning out actors’ voices, bugs), the performances in A Soldier’s Play are well worth the trip out to Accokeek.

Photo Gallery

Cristopher Dinwiddie, left, as Tech Sergeant Vernon C. Waters, with Jivon Jackson as Private James Wilkie MarQuis Fair as PFC Melvin Peterson
Cristopher Dinwiddie, left, as Tech Sergeant Vernon C. Waters, with Jivon Jackson as Private James Wilkie
MarQuis Fair as PFC Melvin Peterson
Steven Butler Jr. as Private C.J. Memphis Terry Spann as Capt Richard Davenport
Steven Butler Jr. as Private C.J. Memphis
Terry Spann as Capt Richard Davenport

Photos provided by Hard Bargain Players

Cast

  • Tech/Sergeant Vernon C. Waters: Cristopher Dinwiddie
  • Captain Charles Taylor: Craig Hower
  • Corporal Bernard Cobb: Jason Ellis
  • Private First Class Melvin Peterson: MarQuis Fair
  • Corporal Ellis: Jeremy Keith Hunter
  • Private Louis Henson: Eric Porter
  • Private James Wilkie: Jivon Lee Jackson
  • Private Tony Smalls: Kenneth Waters, Jr.
  • Captain Richard Davenport: Terry Spann
  • Private C.J. Memphis: Steven A. Butler, Jr.
  • Lieutenant Byrd: Dav Timmermann
  • Captain Wilcox: Robert Hamilton

Crew

  • Director: David M. Thomas
  • Assistant Director: Dave Costa
  • Production Assistant: Kathy Mead
  • Set Design: David M. Thomas, Randy Sena
  • Master Carpenter: Randy Sena
  • Properties and Set Decoration: Keith Mills, David M. Thomas, Kathy Mead
  • Costumes: Kathy Mead
  • Lighting Design: April D. Weimer
  • Sound Design: Brian Donohue
  • Armorer: Steve Claggett
  • Hair and Makeup: Cast
  • Program: Kathy Mead
  • Publicity: Liz Mildenstein
  • House Coordinator: Michael Margelos

Disclaimer: Hard Bargain Players provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has performed in local productions, but prefers to be behind the scenes. Mike earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Online News Association.

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