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 Queensâ€™ theatre companyâ€™s stage in Jamaicaâ€™s Roy Wilkins Park, Ella Joyce, a BSTC alumnae and an actress known as Eleanor on the now-defunct FOX TV sitcom, â€œRocâ€? was paired with actor, Kim Sullivan, in James Graham Bronsonâ€™s play, â€œWillie & Esther.â€?
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 Willieâ€™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 boroughâ€™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 playâ€™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 rÃ©sumÃ© dotted with fictitious credentials as a suitor to one of Aretha Franklinâ€™s relatives and an honorary decorated military man.
Meanwhile, the attractive, youthful, curvaceous beautician, Esther, who marvels at the idea â€œPeople respect her touch,â€? as a professional hairdresser â€“ wants to marry Willie.
â€œAll 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 couplesâ€™ 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 Estherâ€™s resolve to legally cohabitate with her long-term lover, despite his contention she is rushing plans for their relationship. â€œNine years isnâ€™t pushing it; it is crawling,â€? stated Esther to Willie. â€œWillie & Estherâ€? played at the National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C. this summer; and it will return to BSTC.
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