sense of tension manifested at several points during the show as audience members found themselves unsure
of whether to laugh at certain jokes that touched on more offensive
topics. This mix of tension and humor throughout the play effectively
entertained the audience while also prompting them to consider certain concepts.
The characters in Trouble In Mind largely drove
the sarcastic humor evident in the first act through their
spot-on line delivery, especially those of Wiletta Mayer (Katherine
Hunter-Williams) and Millie Davis (Suzette Azariah Gunn). Wiletta’s
deeply sarcastic lines were furthered by her humorous facial
expressions, while Millie’s sassy, acerbic tongue earned many
chuckles from the crowd.
Another character of note was Sheldon
Forrester, played by Roger Robinson, whose humor and amicable obliviousness made
him a hit with the crowd. Robinson commanded the audience’s attention
with his monologue in the second act, during which the lights dimmed,
setting a somber mood and an audible hush from the crowd.
Despite several more solemn moments, the play’s second act welcomed
more physical and exaggerated humor, verging on slapstick at some
points. As the plot picked up steam, the
characters presented hyperbolic stereotypes of African-Americans in a way which had the audience roaring, but also made them question why the
material was so funny while feeling vaguely uncomfortable.
During the second act the full message of racial oppression and
degradation emerged, with every character effectively contributing to theme in their own way. The nine unique characters in Trouble In Mind all gave a different voice and attitude to the issues presented, and each was just as vivid and strong as the
The technical design of the show was superb, helping to illustrate much of the play's intricacy. The exposed brick and 1950s-style lights of the Broadway
theater’s backstage room served as the perfect backdrop for the dynamic
characters and vibrantly colored costumes that filled it. Simultaneously, the simplicity
and dim coloring of the set allowed the characters to shine and the
play’s message to take center stage.
Although Trouble In Mind
was written in the 1950s, its messages shine through as relevant in many ways
today and can be examined with contemporary issues involving those facing oppression — whatever the context might be.