RUN, MOURNER, RUN—A Must-See Premiere Production at Flashpoint

by Ronald Comer

First appearing in Let the Dead Bury their Dead, a critically acclaimed collection of short stories by Randall Kenan that take place in a fictional rural community in North Carolina, RUN, MOURNER, RUN has been adapted for the stage by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who at the age of thirty has already established himself as one of the most eagerly watched young American playwrights. Flashpoint Theatre’s premiere production of this beautifully written and performed one-act play running through November 20th is a must-see.

Keith Conallen as Dean Williams in Flashpoint Theatre Company's RUN, MOURNER, RUN, running from October 27 to November 20 at the Adrienne in Philadelphia PA.

Performed on a largely bare stage framed by weathered white-washed siding exterior walls, an old wooden kitchen table, and rustic wooden chairs placed about, the predominant prop is a hanging tire swing upon which the play’s main character first appears and to which he returns during dramatic transitions in the telling of this absorbing story. Most unusual is the way in which McCraney has structured the writing of this play in that the usual scripted dialogue between characters is overlaid by the actual telling of the story by the actors in narrative prose borrowed extensively from the Kenan’s near poetic short story. The effect of this blending of story narration performed in turn by each character, and juxtaposed with well-acted dialogue, is to provide for the audience the simultaneous experience of a staged reading of Kenan’s moving story of a young man in a small town caught in a life-altering dilemma, along with an exquisitely well-performed play that explores significant and socially relevant themes.

Director Matt Pfeiffer has assembled an outstanding cast who at every turn in the telling of their story intelligently breathe life into their characters drawing the audience ever deeper into the essence of this captivating play. Keith Conallen, a twice Barrymore Award nominated Outstanding Leading Actor, brings to his portrayal of Dean Williams, the central character, wonderfully rich sensitivity. Gerard Joseph, as Raymond Brown, with whom Dean becomes emotionally entangled, is absolutely perfect in his role as one of the two competing land owners in this small rural town. Barrymore Award winning actor, Brian McCann, portrays the other land owner, Percy Terrell, whose devious plan to take over Raymond Brown’s property through use of extortion sets the action of the play/story in motion. The excellent performances of these three actors are splendidly complimented by superbly acted supporting roles played by Jake Bluch, Amanda Grove, Melanye Finister, Aime Kelly, and Jon Mulhearn.

Adding dimensions of depth and realism to the appeal of RUN, MOURNER, RUN is the exceptionally fine lighting of the stage by Thom Weaver, who is also the Artistic Director of Flashpoint Theatre Company. Christopher Colucci’s contributions as composer and sound designer for this premiere production are also well-deserving of special tribute. His musical additions and sound effects, along with Weaver’s set and lighting provide the perfect match of a visual and auditory background upon and within which this finely crafted one-act play is thoughtfully presented.

By Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Matt Pfeiffer
October 29 – November 20, 2010
Flashpoint Theatre Company
@ The Adrienne
2030 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA

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