Moxie Theatre may be small in size, but it certainly does pack a punch. A terrific, wonderful punch.
The theatre is currently offering up Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy, a coming of age story that’s about race and changing times. Set in 1950’s, the Crump family is in search of a new life. Daughters Ermina (Deja Fields) and Ernestine (Jada Temple) have just lost their mother and their father, Godfrey (Vimel Sephus) has packed them up and moved them to Brooklyn to follow the spiritual Father Divine’s ‘Mission’.
Godfrey, works in a bakery and is trying to provide for his daughters. When he’s home, he’s there but mentally, he’s elsewhere and the girls walk around on pins and needles trying not to aggravate him. No loud music, dating or any type of fun is allowed. It’s a life that they’ve unfortunately grown accustomed to.
But, when their whirlwind of an aunt Lily (Cashae Monya) moves in, everything changes. She comes in preaching feminism and shows the girls a different way of life. She’s not the best role model for a pair of young girls but she breathes energy into the stale household, for better or worse.
When Godfrey suddenly marries and brings home a white woman from Germany (Jennifer Eve Thorn), that’s just another match to throw on the household tinderbox.
The play is wonderfully directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg. She knows how to wring a scene dry of every nuance and there wasn’t one time my mind drifted from what was happening on-stage. And with my ADD-rattled brain, that’s a true feat.
Sonnenberg, though, is helped by a cast that is almost perfect. Sephus’ Godfrey is the strong-silent type and you can feel his intensity from your seat. Monya is terrific. From her very first entrance, she’s got a monologue that she kills and she just doesn’t stop.
But the true light in this show comes from Jada Temple. She carries the show and her Ernestine, with everything that is thrown at her, always manages to be hopeful and true. Temple is fantastic, especially at the end of the show where she fills us in on the what happens in each characters lives. It’s sad, tragic but yet, uplifting. In her show bio, she writes that she’s moving to New York in the fall. I have no doubt that good things are in her future.
Crumbs from the Table of Joy runs at Moxie Theatre (6663 El Cajon Blvd Suite N, San Diego, CA 92115) until March 2nd.
For tickets and more information: www.moxietheatre.com/crumbs
Written by Lynn Nottage. Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg
Cast: Deja Fields, Cashae Monya, Vimel Sephus, Jada Temple, Jennifer Eve Thorn