5 STARS OUT OF 5 (Want to know exactly what our star ratings mean? Check out our explanations here.)
Award-winning Seattle actor Gin Hammond has returned to Book-It Repertory Theatre — where she previously acted in such shows as “Treasure Island,” “Huckleberry Finn,” and “Dog of the South” — with a hauntingly beautiful original play of her own composition.
Hammond wrote and performs in the one-woman, 28-character “Returning the Bones,” which is based on the life of Hammond’s own aunt Dr. Carolyn Beatrice Montier (a.k.a. “Bebe”). The play follows Bebe from age 10 to her early twenties, sketching in bold colors the life of a young black medical student from rural Texas in the post-war era searching for her place in the world.
While Book-It typically works to turn literature into theater, this time it’s approaching storytelling the other way around; the play is based on the oral history of Bebe, which Hammond is currently in the process of turning into a book.
The play is simply phenomenal. Hammond’s skills in voice and dialect work are shown in stark relief; without a single prop, she is able to easily differentiate each of the many characters. Skilled lighting design by Reed Nakayama and sound design by Kyle Thompson draw audience members into each scene, giving an understanding of time, place, and emotion without the utterance of a single word. The simple stage and costume design only augment Hammond’s work.
The play , while only 90 minutes, successfully covers a myriad of painful topics — from Jim Crow to the Holocaust, from death to difficult family dynamics. Nothing feels forced or awkward; in fact, it’s starkly honest. Through Hammond, Bebe’s bright character and sharp wit shine through and cast a light into some of the ugliest darknesses of America and the world post-WWII.
“Returning the Bones” is performing at Seattle Central’s own Erickson Theatre on Harvard Ave. Discount tickets are available to students with a valid school ID for $20 during the entire run, and Book-It also is partners with TeenTix for $5 tickets.
Check out the Book-It’s website at book-it.org for show dates and times. The performance is only running for three weeks — until April 14 — so be sure you don’t miss it!