At the opposite end of the dramatic spectrum is Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky, now receiving a beautiful production under the direction of Lou Bellamy. The scene here is also a reimagined past: a New York brownstone during the Harlem Renaissance. Names like Langston Hughes and Josephine Baker are dropped at even intervals. This period detail serves as a backdrop for the intertwined lives of an unlikely set of friends: a mousy reproductive-rights activist (Austene Van Williams-Clark), an avuncular doctor (James Craven in an expansive performance), a "gentleman bachelor" named Guy (Djola Branner), and a flapper named Angel, played magnificently by Marie-Françoise Theodore.
In the heightened moment of the Jazz Age, Guy and Angel drink and sing and plan their escape to Paris. The arrival of a handsome stranger (Lester Purry), however, casts a shadow over their happiness. Without giving away too much of their sad, funny story: One of the friends will die, one will find and lose a lover in the space of a week, and one will sail into the sunset. It must be said also that the play's final scene, in which Angel stands in the fading light with a $20 bill in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other, is shattering. Like every good flapper, she believes too much in the world.