By S.M. Shephard-Massat
Cast: 2m., 1w. (No doubling.) Set in early 1920s rural Georgia, Levee James is both a powerful love story and a riveting exploration of just how far individuals will go to hold onto their personal dreams in a world of unrelenting oppression. Lily Grace Hoterfield returns home to Senoia, Georgia, after years working as a ladies' maid in Atlanta, to visit her deceased sister's husband, Wesley Slaton and his two daughters. There, she finds comfort and joy in their rediscovered connection, yet must quickly face the harsh realities of an unjust world that threatens their love and their survival. "It is a gripping story of love in the '20s, in the midst of the deep South, where lynchings are not uncommon and a black man who is successful on his own terms is suspect to the point where his life is in considerable danger. As Wesley and Lily find themselves falling in love again, the idea of continuing on in the old family home and making more personal history seems sweet and appealing, despite the fact white residents of the town are interested in taking the property for their own use. Fitzhugh Marvin, an old family friend, takes the first blast of violence, but his encounter is only a preview of what is to come, as the show moves toward its bittersweet conclusion." (Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times) "Unfolding with an admirable economy, in dialogue as rich in poetry as it is in wit and an easy naturalism, Levee James climaxes in a potent, tension-filled register reminiscent of the embattled last stand of the outsider family in Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs. The principal difference here, of course, is that Lil and Wes are as insider as you can get, and their dispossession remains all the more powerful for being rooted in the bitter facts of history." One interior set. Approximate Running Time: 1 hour and 55 minutes.