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THEATER BEAT

'Breeze of Summer' Blows Its Lines

July 22, 1994|SCOTT COLLINS

Leslie Lee's "The First Breeze of Summer" may be a good play, but one would never know it from the production at the Globe Playhouse in West Hollywood.

Set in a small northeastern city in 1975, Lee's drama looks at how racism has affected three generations of an African American family. The central conflict is between young Lou Edwards (Trevelyon Williams), a would-be medical student confronting his racial and sexual identity, and his ailing grandmother (Aloma Wright), whose painful past is recounted in flashback.

Despite some unfortunate stereotypes of whites--including an unscrupulous contractor who tries to cheat Lou's father (Daniel W. Williams)--the play tries to warmly and honestly portray a close-knit family perpetually thwarted by a racist society.

The problem is that director Sam Nickens' production is really not ready for a paying audience.

On one recent afternoon, several understudies were playing crucial parts, including one last-minute replacement who read his lines from the script. A number of scenes have been awkwardly staged. A deathbed finale emerges as a histrionic embarrassment.

* "The First Breeze of Summer," Globe Playhouse, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends July 31. $15. (213) 466-1767. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.

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