Written by: Laura Chong
August Wilson’s Gem of the ocean was a phenomenal performance!
This is my first ever theatre play experience and I must say I am very wow-ed by it! Even though the show was long, it ended off with a huge bang! It was truly a memorable first theatre experience and I wish to attend more theatre plays from thereon.
The scenery and props immediately told me that the setting of the play will be in somebody’s home. To elaborate, the costumes indicated that the time is somewhere in the past. The gents were wearing tux and vests which are really formal, coupled with a hat. The ladies were wearing headpieces and long dresses with lots of prints. The paper boat gave me the impression that the play will be a mystical journey and set the mood and theme to be an exciting one.
If I could choose one character to describe their role in the play, it would be Aunt Ester. She is an important character in the play who holds power as the soul washer. She seems to be an important figure who is well respected by everyone. This could be seen in the way everybody greets her when they enter the house. Everyone was always ready to make sure she is comfortable by washing her feet, settling her down in the sofa. She also instructs Mary to do certain chores, in which she obeys. She plays a huge part in the play and story by assisting Citizen Barlow to travel to the City of Bones to restore the spiritual balance of troubled individuals, especially so since Citizen Barlow caused an innocent death by stealing the can of nails.
The City of Bones scene was SPECTACULAR. A very essential part of the scene was the dancers. I could feel the intensity and their dedication to playing the role well and it fit into the theme of the play so well and brought a strong visual of what souls were to look like. It was a little eerie but that was the point of the dance and their movements. I really enjoyed the props that the dancers were using such as red ribbons and wooden sticks as it brought more dimension to the play.
This play transported myself to a mystical world while showing what the African American community in 1904 was like. I could feel myself being transported with them into the City of Bones and what a ride it was!