Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
At the center of this play is Esther, a talented seamstress making her mark on early 20th century New York. Nikole Williams is simply cherishable in the role. The action takes place over a year's time but the character grows from unworldly to much more sure of herself, and Ms. Williams is fully up to the demanding role. Eddie Ray Jackson plays George, the man Esther corresponds with and eventually marries. Because the play is focused on Esther and their marriage is not a successful one, he is the villain of the piece. But Ms. Nottage's writing is so rich and his performance is strong, the audience can still connect with the circumstances that drive him. The other characters in Esther's life are customer Mrs. Van Buren played by Katrina Stevenson, landlady and mother figure Mrs. Dickson played by Fredena J. Williams, fabric merchant Mr. Marks played by Daniel Capote, and friend Mayme played by ZZ Moor. All of these actors are terrific. There is a large amount of warmth between the characters helping the story to resonate with the audience.
The action plays out in four locations on American Stage's large playing area in a detailed set by Steve Mitchell. Costumes by Saidah Ben-Judah are very accurate for the period and add greatly to the overall production, as does lighting design by Jonathan Williams. This is one of the most consistently strong productions I have seen at American Stage in a long time.
Tampa Bay theater lovers would be well advised not to miss this brilliant production of Intimate Apparel, a play already well on its way to becoming a modern classic.
Intimate Apparel at American Stage Theatre Company, through October 11, 2015, 163 Third Street North, St. Petersburg. For more information, visit www.americanstage.org.
Cast (in order of Appearance):
Direction: Stephanie Gularte