Ocean State Theatre Company's winter show is the New England premiere of "The Meeting" by Jeff Stetson. This eloquent play depicts the imagined meeting of two of the most significant men of modern times: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The original production also won 8 NAACP Image Awards including Best Play and Best Playwright. Although differing in their philosophies, but alike in their desire for equality, the two men debate their conflicting approaches to the same grave social problems. Both understand they may both have to give their life for their beliefs, but neither is aware of how soon their assassins' bullets would await them. In time to celebrate Black History Month, this thought provoking play takes an intimate look at two larger than life figures. "The conversation that takes pace within the confines of this play is more relevant than ever" said Ocean State Theatre Company's Producing Artistic Director, Amiee Turner. "The hope for peace and civil justice are still at the forefront of people's consciousness, just as it was over 50 years ago. The goals are still the same, its the approach which creates the issues non-violence, of which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an advocate or doing anything necessary, as was the belief of Malcolm X." Amiee also directs the show with a keen insight to both real life characters and elicits topnotch performances that will mesmerize you all night long.
Amiee blocks the show superbly, keeping the action flowing and the men moving around the apartment to maintain the attention of the audience. This ninety minute show is riveting as these actors capture the larger than life men they are portraying. The show takes place on February 14, 1965 in a Harlem hotel room on the seventh floor. The author examines the social and political theories of each man and wonders what would have happened if they joined forces to reach their common goal. They arm wrestle with each other three times with each one trying to top the other. When the last one is a draw, King says "Just imagine what we could have accomplished if we joined hands together in the same direction". King as the dreamer and Malcolm X as the revolutionary both wanted freedom for their people but their different methods kept them from joining forces. The two excellent leads are Marcus Denard Johnson as King and Damron Russel Armstrong as Malcolm X. They deliver electrifying performances. The two men finally reach a detente with each other when King delivers a doll from his daughter to Malcolm's daughter after Malcolm's house was destroyed by a bomb. Tony Mitchell is topnotch as Rashad, Malcolm's bodyguard. One of his funniest moments occurs when he frisks King when he is only supposed to be removing King's overcoat. The newsreel footage before and after the show is astounding, too. It includes footage of both men and the events of the 1960's including their assassinations. So for a riveting show based on actual historical figures and how these same issues still exist today, be sure to catch "The Meeting" at Ocean State Theatre Company. It will really enlighten you with their marvelous acting and direction.