Bright Swords

rick creese · Ages 12+ · world premiere · one person show · United States of America

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Review by MORNA MURPHY MARTELL

June 17, 2015 not born yesterday

My overall impression

Being British born I had heard of their 19th century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge but knew little about him. Well, in this fascinating hour Ryan Vincent Anderson, as Aldridge, vividly enacts the history but also shows the soul of the man. A free black American, at age 18 Aldridge escaped from a country where his passion for acting was thwarted by the dangers of prejudice. What playwright Rick Creese shows in this biography is the personal life of an itinerant player in that era who became a star while demanding that the British abolish slavery throughout the Empire – which they did. There is his deep affection in marriage to a blonde English lady; his relationships with other greats of the period; the desperation of an actor traveling throughout the British Isles performing for a pittance; his dream of performing at Covent Garden, the Broadway of that time; and finally his devotion to his little abandoned son. In the Shakespearean fragments, Anderson is magnificent as Othello, natch, but equally riveting as Shylock, just one of the roles Aldridge conquered.
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