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The saga of the Clarks, a prosperous, African-American, funeral home-owning South Carolina family

Wednesday, Apr 6 2005
The old saying "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world" finds its apotheosis in Charles Randolph-Wright's domestic comedy. This semi-autobiographical riff on the relationship between the playwright and his mother charts the highs and lows of growing up as a member of the Clark household, a prosperous, African-American, funeral home-owning family in South Carolina. At the center towers Peggy Clark (Anise Ritchie), a domineering yet loving matriarch in fluffy, high-heeled mules, whose passions in life include buying furniture, controlling the lives of her two sons, and swaying to the music of jazz singer Blue Williams (Shadee Rashada). As Randolph-Wright's piece meanders across a landscape of soulful songs, voluminous 'fros, and takeout dinners disguised as home cooking, it seems there's more to Peggy's infatuation with Williams' creamy, Luther Vandross-like voice than meets the eye. Despite the incoherent correlation between Nona Hendryx's songs and the plot -- there appears to be little motivation behind Rashada's intermittent musical outbursts -- and some dragging, arrhythmic direction, the cast brings the Clark family to life with relaxed good humor.

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Chloe Veltman


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