Theater: The Hartford Stage
Play: Feeding The Dragon
Playwright: Sharon Washington
Reviewer: Howard Steven Frydman
A river of written words flows freely from the hallow halls of the Hartford Stage Company with its current occupant, “Feeding The Dragon” – the ensuing story of an adolescence’s ebb and flow of life – a true flood of creativity from book to stage and a tale both riveting and heartfelt.
Indeed – many a tale has begun with the immortal, ”In the Beginning” or “It was a dark and stormy night, or “In a Galaxy Far Far Away” and lastly the infamous – “Once Upon A Time” – yes all celebrated opening lines in novels, plays, films, and now we joyfully add, author and performer, Sharon Washington’s wonderfully bold and colorful tale of her youth, “Feeding The Dragon” that warmly takes one’s mind’s eye back to other notable remembrances of childhood memories including “Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory” and Capote’s lifelong friend, Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” – and in this same vein I so strongly encourage you to be acquainted with the heartwarming tale of the “little girl who lived at the library”, her family, friends and the father who tends to the roaring monster in the library’s basement.
It’s been over a week since I have seen this production, and on retrospection, I freely admit, that “Feeding the Dragon” was an absolutely enchanting surprise to this reviewer. Many a time, we enter a theater never knowing what will be presented on stage, especially a one person presentation – I can honestly state that this production left an indelible mark on me as playwright and performer Sharon Washington so vividly recreates her cherished childhood retrospection, during the 1970’s, of growing up on the top floor apartment of the St. Agnes – a branch of the New York Public Library and the denizens she found within.
The public library – a building so grand, imposing, and during the time period of the ‘70’s, could only be heated by a massive coal furnace heating system which necessitated a live-in custodian, Sharon’s father, – “Feeding The Dragon” coal at all times. When the library’s door closes to the public – Sharon has access to the entire world of the library, her enjoyment of reading commences, and within these books her life of fantasies begins.
My sheer delight with “Feeding The Dragon” goes hand in hand with award winning actress/playwright Sharon Washington’s outstanding on stage performance, light, friendly, engaging, as she reels the audience into the childhood world of “young Sharon”. Washington singlehandedly takes us on a multi character journey, over 20 characters plus the family dog “Brownie”, and during the 90 minute production we are charmed in getting acquainted with various stories about her youth, family and friends including: an all-knowing grandmother, her mother and the jewelry she has stored away for that special occasion, Brownie’s nocturnal getaway in the library, how she received her grand piano, the Dragon-feeding father who takes her home to meet his own mother and family in the south, and then eventually leading us to learning secrets that all families possess and which make for real honest stories and not fairytales.
All it takes is one book to begin a journey- please take the journey along with so many to the Hartford Stage to see this enchanting tale. Thank you Miss Washington in sharing those days of your youth spent in the New York City library. I so look forward to having your delightful tale adapted soon into a featured film. “Feeding The Dragon”, a co-production with Primary Stages, made its world premiere at City Theater in Pittsburgh. The production is directed by Maria Mileaf, Scenic Design by Tony Ferrieri and Costume Design by Toni-Leslie James. Enjoy.
Tickets for the Hartford Stage production of Sharon Washington’s “Feeding The Dragon” are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (860) 527-5151 or by visiting http://www.hartfordstage.org. The production runs through February 4th. Weeknight and evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances are Saturdays, Sundays and select weekdays at 2 p.m.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at Howards2424@gmail.com