Willie & Esther At Black Spectrum Theatre

Black Spectrum Theatre Company, a thirty-five-year old theatre company in Queens, throbbed with almost every conceivable conflict two lovers could adorn with comprehensive grim humor and plenty of tolerable indifference. On the Queens’ theatre company’s stage in Jamaica’s Roy Wilkins Park, Ella Joyce, a BSTC alumnae and an actress known as Eleanor on the now-defunct FOX TV sitcom, “Roc� was paired with actor, Kim Sullivan, in James Graham Bronson’s play, “Willie & Esther.�

A back alley is a venue Willie (Kim Sullivan), with limited options, accepts as home.  Willie was evicted for nonpayment of rent, by an unscrupulous local landlord and businessman named Smitty (Carl Clay). Willie and his lover of nine years, Esther (Ella Joyce) dominate this dramatic comedy with hilarious, knee-bending, and good-old fashion quarrels and hastily planned conspiracies. In this alley, with scrawls of fresh graffiti, large garbage cans and scattered debris, on the pavement, you will find Willie’s meager belongings stashed in a supper-market shopping cart (set designer Harlan Penn). The play, directed by Lorna Littleway, is a coursework on the inevitability of two middle-aged working-class citizens strapped for cash attempt creative strategies to supplement their fixed incomes.

Ironically, as Queens residents planned to attend a lecture-discussion by Congressman Gregory Meeks on Social Security, at one of the borough’s local colleges (scheduled a day after the play closed), Willie steadfastly exercising his veto power to forge a way to make a legitimate income, orders Esther to engage in numerous criminal acts that earns him more reward points for his low self-esteem than a lucrative income.

Whether Willie is a serial gamer is not clearly conveyed by the play’s writer.  But what is a truism is that he is a charismatic, fascinating and fast-talking garrulous handyman.  At the least, he is an avid gamer with a résumé dotted with fictitious credentials as a suitor to one of Aretha Franklin’s relatives and an honorary decorated military man.
Meanwhile, the attractive, youthful, curvaceous beautician, Esther, who marvels at the idea “People respect her touch,� as a professional hairdresser – wants to marry Willie.

“All you want to do is put a ring on my finger and around my nose,â€? said Willie to Esther. The truth is Esther will take Willie whether he is rich or poor but she is sensible and not easily swayed into releasing her cash to him where there is not any signs of  him having any collateral in sight or in the near future.

The couples’ considerable joint confrontation with a drive-by shoot out, continuous public humiliation, a personal disclosure of past deadbeat intimate relationships and a walk through black history only strengthens Esther’s resolve to legally cohabitate with her long-term lover, despite his contention she is rushing plans for their relationship. “Nine years isn’t pushing it; it is crawling,� stated Esther to Willie. “Willie & Esther� played at the National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C. this summer; and it will return to BSTC.

For information on upcoming BSTC programs and events, call (718) 723-1800.

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