Too Much Word 

The story takes place in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and begins during a funeral for blues musician Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton (J-Ron Fleming). It then flashes back to Floyd’s final days. He has a hit record but no money. He returns home from Chicago to recruit his former sidemen for another shot at the big time. Nothing goes as planned.

The best scenes are between the three musicians: Floyd, Canewell (Clifton A. Duncan) and Red (Craig Suiter). The show doesn’t really click until Canewell appears. Duncan has considerable stage presence and an instinctive feel for the pendulum swings in Wilson’s dialogue. The production has far more energy when he’s on stage.

In this script, Wilson does better by his men than his women, as the women serve only to provoke the men. Louise (Anissa Ellis) needles them like an older sister. Ruby (Jackie Lamptey) stirs their lust, and Vera (Kim Ambrose) is an object for Floyd and Canewell’s affections.

Director Derome Scott Smith does an excellent job with the emotional content but doesn’t crank the pace enough to overcome the repetition in Wilson’s script. There’s also one oddity in the production: Before entering a scene, characters are momentarily illuminated with a spotlight. It looks like the transporter from Star Trek, and it disrupts the focus of the scenes.

This show contains some fine performances. There are times when it’s as involving as anything I’ve seen on stage. Given the exhaustive nature of the material, one should record this as a success for Living Word. It’s actually quite a bargain because of the modest ticket prices. But come prepared Jerrell Nickerson

“Seven Guitars” continues through Feb. 1 at Living Word Stage Company, 103 E. Broad St. Tickets cost $12-$15 and can be purchased by calling 644-4030.


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