One simple letter that creates a tsunami? Yes, it could happen – and it did. Written by Carole Eglash-Kosoff, an inveterate researcher and author who leaves no stone unturned, THE DOUBLE V tells the little-known true story of one man who stood up to “the system” and changed the world.
It’s early in 1942 in Kansas, and every able-bodied young man is accepted when volunteering to enlist in the U.S. military to do his patriotic World War II duty. All but Jimmy Thompson (Preston Butler III), who soon finds out that almost every able-bodied, patriotic young man is accepted to fight for his country. For Jimmy is African-American at a time when black men were not welcome in the armed forces. What can Jimmy do? With the encouragement of his girlfriend Annie Culver (Terra Strong Lyons), he writes a letter to the Pittsburg Courier outlining what happened and asking why. That simple single act will have astounding consequences.
When Pittsburgh Courier editor Ira Lewis (Nicholas “Nic” Few) and female reporter Marjorie “Madge” Evans (Brie Eley) read Jimmy’s letter, they realize that this is a hot potato which might have the power to inflame society and maybe even lead to social change. Soon the Double V badge (V for Victory in WW II and V for Victory at home) becomes the mantra for black activists all over the U.S. The ramifications of this rallying point are sometimes nearly catastrophic and often unexpected.
Director Michael Arabian works skillfully with a passionate cast and committed playwright to present this forgotten piece of history, a history which was instrumental in sparking the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. THE DOUBLE V is a fascinating journey into the past which remains relevant to this day. This thought-provoking play is both intriguing and riveting as it traces the evolution of a movement which will eventually have a major impact on American society.
John Iacovelli’s scenic design is flexible and enhanced by Fritz Davis’ video projections. Costume designer Dana Rebecca Woods and hair/makeup designer Byron Batista work wonders in converting their contemporaries into denizens of the 1940’s. Christopher Moscatiello’s sound and Jared A. Sayeg’s lighting offer their particular contributions to the piece. History buffs will love this show – as well as activists of any color. Playwright Eglash-Kosoff manages to capture the drama inherent in incendiary historical events and convey this to the audience in a well-written and well-performed play.
THE DOUBLE V runs through November 24, 2019, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. The Matrix Theatre is located at 7657 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets are $40 (VIP $50, students $20, special group rates). For information and reservations, go online.