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A CurtainUp Review
Years of Sky
By Zoe Erwin-Longstaff
Star-crossed, why? With two of the drama’s three episodes set in the tumultuous civil rights era, it is hardly surprising to see youthful love and innocence fall victim to clashing political ideologies. There's liberal v. radical, accommodation v. militancy, Dr. King v. Malcolm X, and so on. Thus, the angry and emboldened David cannot submit to the love he feels for the fair-skinned and privileged Stace. This, despite her embrace of the egalitarian world that she knows lies just over the horizon, and despite her assurances that it is David’s dark-skinned “beauty” that moves her.
The opposing stances are brought forth in the first scene, only to be more vehemently repeated in the second and then, in case you didn’t quite get it, vociferously stated in the third — all without much sense of emotional nuance or depth of thinking. Consider, for example, the trope of the sky, from which the title takes its name. It is introduced early: “It’s so empty, so blank,” And later with “Drive me across the sky to your house tonight” — and yet again with “The sky is like a giant scroll with nothing on it.” But beyond these isolated observations, the metaphor’s implications are never explored.
The final scene is the most captivating for what it hints at about stace, “Am I righteous?” she asks defensively, having spent the better part of her life fighting for positions she can only profit from abstractly, and for people she has fetishized and whose experience she cannot share. Stace is righteous, and yet this insight is softened — blunted, one might say — by David’s incessant reassurances of what an admirable person she is.
The actors are suitably cast, especially Auden Thornton as Stace and Sheldon Best as David at 17 and 22 ((Giano Grills and Amy Hargreaves play Stace and David at 46 and Todd Davis plays a third character) Indeed, they have clear, articulate voices that resound in the small space. They do their best to embody the script’s forced banalities in ways that suggest the momentous personal issues that are historically in play.
Unfortunately, the play undermines their efforts, by being too long. Its more stirring moments, and there are a few, would have been better presented without two intermission and less repetition of dialogue. Too bad that what we are given is for the most part, maudlin and didactic, with its political and romantic prescriptions worn on its sleeve.
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