People filled the seats at Charles Winter Wood Theatre on Friday and Saturday night to watch “Black Widow.”
Written by alumnus James Webb Jr., the play intertwines spirituality, religion and superstitions, all while revealing how people can hold on to and carry life’s burdens by passing them down to their children.
These “chains,” as they are referred to in the play, have symbolic meaning to the psychological bondage that often follows depression. Webb also raises questions of generational curses and being bound to these curses from one generation to the next.
“Black Widow” is based off the playwright’s life growing up. The play is set in Mississippi, Webb’s home state.
James, the main character, is motivated by similar circumstances from Webb’s childhood.
Lil’ James, James father in the play, had a tense relationship with his son after his son’s mother leaves. James finally leaves his father’s house and moves to New York City. James returns home after some time to find his father in emotional turmoil, never having fully healed from his mother’s abandonment.
Webb adds an unusual twist in the plot when he takes the audience to the afterlife to meet James’ grandmother and grandfather. Waiting on God to call them to heaven, the spirits have been watching over their son and grandson.The couple serves as the comedic relief in an otherwise dreary and tense situation.
Some actors still had scripts in their hands, but the emotions were still on display.
“Black Widow” left many people with questions of what was going on in the play. The audience members had an opportunity to ask those questions in a post-production Q & A with Webb.
“Black Widow” is in its development stage writing and production, which allows the playwright to get feedback from the audience about scenes they liked or didn’t like. He then makes revisions for the next production.
Webb said he appreciates the constructive criticism and that this is a part of the process of developing a great, well-written, well-performed play.
Audience members said they liked how the play was thought-provoking and how it touched on generations of one black man to another.
Other audience members questioned the name of the play and the meaning behind it.
“If I answered the questions all in the play, you would forget about it tomorrow,” Webb said. “I want people to still be thinking about it for days later.”