… But do take the time to see this complex and powerful character perform at Arena Stage, now through March 8.
The eighth in a series of ten plays by playwright August Wilson exploring African-American life decade by decade, King Hedley II tells the story of King, an ex-convict trying to set things right and build a life for himself and his pregnant wife in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Set in 1985, life in King’s neighborhood is anything but easy. Through idle porch-side chats, we learn that Tonya, at just thirty-something years old, already has a granddaughter; that Ruby had to bury her husband; that in school, kids are taught to become janitors. Hourly wages are less than what he would have made as a slave, laments King.
The performances are gritty, electrifying; the dialogue both witty yet morose. Though undoubtedly a tragic tale, the luck of each character seems to ebb and flow, leaving just enough hope that just maybe things won’t always stay the same for King’s court.
*Images courtesy, credit C. Stanley Photography