Funky King's Tune: A Song for Coretta falls flat at the Black Rep

As mourners stand in the February chill outside Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church to pay their final respects to Coretta Scott King, a young freelance reporter (Candace Jeanine) interviews some of the women in line. The first hour of the Black Rep's performance of this 85-minute intermissionless play is absorbing and well staged by Erik Kilpatrick.

The dignity and gravitas that emanate from the commanding Andrea Frye as a woman who once met Mrs. King are delightfully contrasted by the always-resourceful Rory Lipede as a bimbo who wouldn't know Coretta King from King Creole. But in the final half hour, when playwright Pearl Cleage counterpoints the travails of a Katrina survivor (Cathy Simpson) with those of a soldier (Leah Stewart) on the verge of deserting over atrocities witnessed in Iraq, their duologue strives for a theatrical lyricism that is strained at best. At this point Coretta is essentially shut out of her own play, and the only light that gets shed comes from the street lamp.

Cathy Simpson and Rory Lipede in A Song for Coretta.
Stewart Goldstein
Cathy Simpson and Rory Lipede in A Song for Coretta.


A Song for Coretta
Performed through March 15 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $43. Call 314-534-3810 or visit

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