Recommended by Amina McIntyre of the Songs of KARIBU Performing Arts Company, I had the pleasure of seeing The Best Game at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center in Decatur this past weekend.
Written and directed by Paris Crayton III, the Artistic Director of the Rising Sage Theatre Company, the play captures the first-ever meeting between Leann, a high-achieving, 19-year-old journalism student played by Isake Akanke, and her father Scott, played by Gerard Catus, an uninspired artist who is monotonously cycling through life.
Seemingly opposite in every manner, from Leann’s God-fearing beliefs to Scott’s vice-indulgent lifestyle, as well the stark contrast in their physical statures, the characters struggle from the opening act to find common ground where they can relate to one another.
With nineteen years of ammunition and a shield of confidence, Leann peppers Scott with questions about his life, the decision he made to not participate in hers and what is at the root of his apathetic existence. Lacking the compassion of a doting father, or even a concerned stranger, Scott deflects her questions while trying to understand why she has suddenly appeared after his nearly two decade absence and, ultimately, what she wants from him.
A mutual love of music is where the two finally meet and begin to speak in familiar tones. Though, as done previously during his relationship with Leann’s mother, Scott deliberately interrupts their innocent moment when he feels that Leann has ventured too close to his emotionally-guarded life.
Awkward tensions continuously swirl before finally spilling onto the stage as Scott and Leann both reveal tragic events that have shaped their individual lives.
But it’s their debate over life-altering decisions, choices that will impact them both with or without a relationship, that drive this performance to its climax and push the father and daughter to an emotional point unimaginable prior to meeting.
Though I have not experienced many of the emotions and events that are unveiled throughout this performance, this is an easily relatable and naturally unfolding story. As Scott and Leann exchange charged words and expose vulnerabilities, you feel as if you are peeking into Scott’s living room during a pivotal moment that will have long-lasting effects on both characters.
The obvious differences between the biological, yet estranged, father-daughter pair create foreseeable tensions. But it’s their underlying similarities, like the unapologetic stance each takes in defense of their lifestyle decisions, that add layers of complexity which draw you into each character as they navigate the storyline.
The crisp and naturally flowing dialogue within Paris Crayton III‘s script, coupled with the lockstep cadence and chemistry between Isake Akanke and Gerard Catus, make The Best Game an excellent performance and wonderful display of the talent within Atlanta’s Performing Arts community.
The Best Game is in its final week at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center in Decatur. Tickets for shows on Thursday, April 10 through Sunday, April 13 are available for purchase here. You can read more about the Rising Sage Theater Company and their upcoming productions on their website, Facebook and Twitter.
The Best Game will be great addition to your weekend entertainment schedule. If you make it to the show, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Enjoy.