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Joe Turner's Come and Gone 

When: Tue., Dec. 9, 8 p.m., Wed., Dec. 10, 7 p.m., Thu., Dec. 11, 8 p.m., Fri., Dec. 12, 8 p.m., Sat., Dec. 13, 8 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 14, 7 p.m. 2008
Price: $16.50-$52

Berkeley Rep's first foray into August Wilson's work, Joe Turner's Come and Gone is a stunner, tightly directed by DelroyLindo -- who was nominated for a Tony Award as Herald Loomis in the original 1988 Broadway production -- with especially sharp comic timing and some knockout performances. Where the production gets bogged down are in long speeches that are delivered well, but there's no getting past the fact that the play seems to come to a halt to accommodate them. Teagle F. Bougere's Herald Loomis is wary and intense, but he seems awfully young for a guy who's been through years of hard living. Barry Shabaka Henley is superb as the curmudgeonly boardinghouse owner, especially when palling around with Brent Jennings's easygoing Bynum Walker. Dealing with rural African Americans moving to big cities in search of work and of the uneasy relationship between Christianity and older African spirituality, it's a lot to tackle in two and a half hours, but Lindo and his cast make it feel like a labor of love. Through December 14 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2015 Addison St., Berkeley) or 510-647-2949.

— Sam Hurwitt


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