Posted on Jul 21, 2013
4 out of 5
The Melting Pot, as a company, is a relatively new one. Still, it has managed to establish itself with a small coterie of very talented people. With this year's Fringe, they are presenting a new work, "Wiccans in the Hood", an interesting meditation on culture, class, religion, and consequences.
Gabriel (Jose Faus) is a priest of Ifa, a (genuine) West African religion who leads his small flock in late night ceremonies in an inner-city graveyard. One night, local resident Diamond (Lynn King) catches them at it, and demands to know what's going on. Over time she gets to know the group, and together they deal with various challenges in each others' lives, supporting each other until tragedy wraps the neighborhood in mourning.
It is always good to see the Melting Pot regulars at work, and this time around there are some new faces present as well. The story is by local author Michelle T Johnson, of whom this reviewer has written before. It has been gratifying watching her maturing as a playwright as she takes on more complex and challenging material. This script in particular is interesting, dealing as it does with events which (coincidentally, it must be said) mirror certain recent unfortunate events in the news. This is not an easy tale, but there is much to be gleaned from it. Each of the performers in the small ensemble have been given their moment to shine, and they take good advantage (it must be noted that audiences at the Friday night showing missed a fairly substantial chunk of dialogue due to Critical Actor Failure, so any reports of confusion must be taken with that in mind).
The technical side of the presentation was simple as befits a Fringe presentation, one set being used throughout. Sound and lighting were minimal, and transition between scenes kept brisk. There was just the right amount of humor sprinkled therein, and the players seem to be, if not entirely comfortable in their lines, certainly settling in as they go.
Fringe is an excellent workshop for small plays with a lot to say, and it is always gratifying to see this sort of material on display. Those out for an interesting night of theatre, or just interested in catching local talent as it grows, could do much worse than to catch this production at the Unicorn through the end of the week.