A Thousand Circlets by Theroun Patterson: A Review
Watching the world première of A Thousand Circlets by Theroun D’Arcy Patterson, Winner of the Essential Theatre playwriting Award, was an enjoyable experience. The new play by Mr. Patterson who was in the audience (every performance night) is a five person play about a dysfunctional family, regret, Alzheimer’s disease, and a family architectural company.
The play involves an African-American family and the father patriarch played by Tony Vaughn, who has Alzheimer’s; however, his wife, played by Yvonne Singh, won’t accept it. The three adult children, played by Tony Goolsby, a business person who works in the family business, and his sister played by Precious Bright, were always close although they have a love-hate friendship among them. The step-brother, Olubajo Sonubi, is an architect but lives with the fact that his design caused someone’s death when the building collapsed.
The step siblings have a sexual relationship that is later discovered by Caleb (Goolsby). As a matter of fact, Caleb is having marital problems with his wife whom the audience never meets. Eventually, love between the Patriarch, Earl Leighton, (played by Vaughn), and wife Liz Kensey Leighton, (played by Singh) prevails. Getting there is half the fun.
The play for me was extremely strong in Act I and weaker in Act II. The script echoes a television script due to the fact that a technical dilemma in Act II when step siblings Rebecca and Grey fight over their love for each other and the love of the family business. They are forced to face each other for a good 15 minutes of dialogue while the audience watches their profiles. The director, Betty Hart, can’t do anything about this. It’s stronger if they just talk to each other but weaker for the audience since the audience are forced to look at 15 minute profiles. It’s intense and the audience wants to see their eyes but can’t. This is when a POV from a camera shot would work beautifully here but it’s theatre, no such luck.
The flashback in Act I works beautifully and is scripted well with a nice transition afterwards with Earl responding to his wife in the present as if he was still in 2001 in New York City. It’s 2011 and his Alzheimer’s is severe to the point that he can’t function at work anymore, to the dismay of his cussing every minute son, Caleb.
It’s good theatre. For me, it resembles a television script on stage. It’s still strong theatre with excellent volatile performances by the women, who keep you guessing what they will do next. The writing is eloquent, elevated language with the Act I over an hour and Act II also over an hour with a 10-15 minute intermission.
It’s a strong, very enjoyable, and ambitious first play written by Mr. Patterson. It’s an excellent career taking off into high gear that hopefully will continue at a steady pace for a long career ahead of him.