Saturday, July 4, 2020

‘Loving and Loving’ is an affair worth remembering

Camille Monae (left) and D.R. Mann Hanson bring the story of Mildred and Richard Loving to life on the stage at Bishop Arts Theatre Center through Feb. 23. (Photo: David Wilfong / NDG)

By David Wilfong, NDG Contributing Writer

It’s a love story.

But it’s complicated.

But it shouldn’t be.

“Loving and Loving” is playing at the Bishop Arts Theatre Center now through Feb. 23. It chronicles the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, they were arrested for the crime of interracial marriage in 1958. This led to a landmark court decision opening the door for marriage freedom for all individuals in the country.

Holding true to the theater’s “off-Broadway” feel, the stage production and set design is minimal, and there are only three members of the cast. Camille Monae and D.R. Mann Hanson portray Mildred and Richard, who meet as teenagers and end up in exile after violating Virginia’s marriage laws. Colby Calhoun plays a narrator, assuming a host of other roles throughout the production, such as children, police officers, and judges in court.

As the couple’s journey is chronicled, intermittent recordings share the perspectives of mixed-race individuals in contemporary America. This acts as an homage to the world the couple helped create through their struggle, a world populated by an increasing number of people as time progresses.

This is also a regional premiere of the play. During the opening weekend playwrights, Beto O’Byrne and Meropi Peponides were in the audience to see the local production.

Bishop Arts often hosts productions with sensitive subjects not recommended for younger audiences. However, while this play examines a sensitive issue, it is one that can be enlightening for almost all ages. It is a look at where we’ve been as a culture, and a reminder of a story not often remembered, which helped to shape the world a whole nation lives in today.

The three actors do a masterful job of keeping the story moving and engaging. It is well-researched and written with a cadence, which makes the performance seem shorter than it actually is. While being perhaps the most simplistic production this writer has ever seen at Bishop Arts Theatre, it is definitely among the best. A first-rate theater experience, this is one to go see.

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