‘Front Porch Society’ turns from drama to melodrama
Despite play’s solid premise on race, strong characters don’t get their due
May 19, 2017
“Front Porch Society” could be an important story.
It’s told from the perspective of older African-American women living in the rural South, a category of people who almost see no representation in the arts. It’s the first play I’ve seen tackle the relationship between the presidential election of Barack Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement. And it’s at the Ensemble Theatre, the only historically African-American theater in Houston, a venue whose art seems to value community more than other theaters, at a time when community is as necessary as medicine.
That’s why at first I hesitated to focus on the flaws of this play, written by Melda Beaty and whose world premiere is at the Ensemble through June 4. It’s like going to church and complaining the organist is flat. “Front Porch Society” will no doubt move and touch many people on the basis of its premise alone, and during these turbulent times a play like this can offer a much needed look back at what we thought about America in 2008.
But when it comes to the complexities of race, grief and police brutality, “Front Porch…