Don’t Mess with King Hedley II…

King Hedley II… 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.

King Hedley II plays at Arena Stage through March 8, 2015

*Images courtesy, credit C. Stanley Photography

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