Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Also see Rebecca's reviews of The Last Parade, The Lifespan of a Fact and Clyde's
The Light opens with Rashad (Sesay) nervously getting ready to welcome his girlfriend Genesis (Bey) home from work. Sesay is instantly adorable. Bey exudes confident energy from the moment she strides on to the stage. Together they feel every bit the young couple in love. There is a wonderful intimacy in the way they give each other a hard time and decompress from their day together.
It is the night of their second anniversary, and Rashad has something special planned. Everything is going great until Rashad reveals he has tickets to a concert featuring an artist Genesis cannot stand. The way Rashad and Genesis slip from everyday conversation into the treacherous territory of past regret and rushed judgment is uncanny.
Sesay and Bey deliver visceral performances; the most joyful moments and darkest struggles are both delivered with remarkable authenticity. Witnessing the intimate conflict feels uncomfortable, but that discomfort is essential to the story Webb is trying to tell.
Nick Embree's set design is pitch perfect and contributes to the sense that we are really in Genesis' apartment. Tiffany Bacon's costume design is also on point. I especially like the transition from professional attire to comfortable loungewear for Bey.
The Light grapples with difficult issues and thorny questions about communication in romantic relationships. How much of ourselves are we obligated to share with our partner? What happens when our instinctive reaction turns out to be hurtful or wrong? Do we need to share past trauma to move forward? Webb's drama offers some profound insights, but no easy answers. I suggest you spend the evening with Genesis and Rashad and grapple with their issues for yourself.
The Light runs through February 26, 2023, at Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please visit theatreexile.org or call 215-218-4022.