Theater Review: “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”

Theater Review: “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”Joe Turner Mark Taper 2013

I was hesitant to post this review, because it contains some errors and curious claims.

However, I try to represent commentary on Wilson as it exists.  Two specific errors include the spelling of “Bynum Walker” as “Bynam Walker” (which, by itself, is not egregious).  However, in paragraph three, Wilson’s “Radio Golf” is identified as “Radio Days,” which is quite peculiar.  Not enough fact checking.

Finally, there is this: “Of these works, ‘Joe Turner’ is among the best. The latter plays – ‘Seven Guitars,’ ‘King Hedley II,’ ‘Gem of the Ocean’ – are just as textually rich but longer and less concise.”  While I do agree that “Joe Turner” is Wilson at his best, I have no idea what “less concise” means. I would, in fact, argue that Wilson became more concise as he matured.  I believe some of the early plays had to be workshopped for extended periods to time to bring them in at under three hours.  And if you don’t understand the concise messages of “Seven Guitars,” “Hedley,” and “Gem” then I don’t know what to tell you.

Here is a stronger excerpt (with “Bynum” spelled correctly):

“Herald Loomis is in limbo. With his young daughter in tow, he’s been searching for his wife whom he hasn’t seen in ten years. He comes to a boardinghouse owned by Seth Holly and his wife Bertha (Keith David and Lilas White). One of the residents there, the shaman, “binder,” and storyteller Bynum Walker (Glynn Turman), sizes up Loomis (John Douglas Thompson) and – more eloquently than any reviewer could ever phrase it – tells him that he’s lost his song and needs to find it again.”

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