The Column Online



by Joel Drake Johnson

Circle Theatre

Director – Krista Scott
Set Designer – Clare Floyd DeVries
Lighting Designer – John Leach
Costume Designer – Brittny Mahan
Sound Designer – David H. M. Lambert
Stage Manager – Megan Beddingfield

Rose Saunders – Barrie Alguire
Ileen Van Meter – Lisa Fairchild
Jaclyn Spaulding – M. Denise Lee
Dr. David Williams – Ken Orman

Reviewed Performance: 4/29/2017

Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Office politics are one of life’s necessary evils. Mix in a racial element and there’s a minefield of daily interactions. Joel Drake Johnson’s “Rasheeda Speaking” looks into the lives of a pair of office assistants and examines their interactions and biases. However, as Avenue Q’s Gary Coleman let us know “Bigotry has never been exclusively white” and the audience is left questioning who is the good guy in the situation.

Clare Floyd DeVries presents another fantastic set. Being the resident Set Designer for the past seven years, she expertly knows how to get around the thick columns in Circle Theatre’s space. The set perfectly recreates a doctor’s office from behind the counter. Most impressive is the joint work over the front counter upstage. The angle at which the counter wraps around is exceptionally difficult to joint together. Plus the details of built in shelves under the counter and the authentic soothing colors of the office complete this memorable set design.

The lighting design is unfortunately lackluster. The lights come up at the beginning of a scene and go down at the end. Nothing dynamic happens between. The most interesting lighting happens during the inter-scene action, when an unnamed stage hand, dressed as a janitor, cleans up props left from the previous scene. The lights on the stage are a low level but brighter light filters in from the office lobby door. John Leach has created a good design for what is required in the script, which, sadly, is not much.

Costumes are well thought out by Brittny Mahan. The character Ileen is dressed in traditional dark, solid blues while Jaclyn wears earth tones and each scene, a day in the world of the play, brings a more vibrant pattern. As the scenes progress the costume designs reflect the growing divide between the characters exceptionally well.

David H. M. Lambert lets his voice be heard through the music selections heard as if through the janitor stage hand’s headphones. With En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind,” a Nina Simone selection, and a soft cover of Depeche Mode’s “People are People,” the message of racial tolerance comes through loud and clear.

Lisa Fairchild and M. Denise Lee as Ileen Van Meter and Jaclyn Spaulding are more than capable of carrying this show. Their interactions are dynamic and full of subtext. Lee adeptly delivers the eponymous monologue in the third scene to silent captivation from the audience. The character arc of Ileen Van Meter demonstrates Fairchild’s extraordinary acting ability as she gains the audience’s trust and sympathy early but ends up being the voice of fear and paranoia. Both performances are remarkable and should not be missed.

Ken Orman’s performance comes across disappointingly wooden and stiff. He delivers the lines matter-of-factually and with little variety. He does, however, work well with the stage direction as he avoids looking at Jaclyn throughout their scenes together.

Finally, Barrie Alguire is wonderful as the hapless patient unwittingly caught in the crossfire. Her scenes are short but impactful.

Rasheeda Speaking is a show that tries to tackle an eternal societal ill. However, the writing leaves the audience uncertain of which side to come down upon with the apparent hope to open a conversation. Circle Theatre’s production features incredible set design and acting, making for an enjoyable night of theatre.


Circle Theatre
230 W 4th Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102

Runs through May 20th

Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday at both 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Tickets are $20.00-$30.00 on Thursdays and Saturday matinée, and $25.00-$38.00 on Friday and Saturday night. A special University Night is February 7th at 8:00pm. Tickets will be $5.00 for students and $10.00 for staff.

Senior, student, military, KERA, Press Pass, S.T.A.G.E., and group discounts are available. Half price tickets for students are sold 30 minutes before show time, subject to availability.

For more information visit: or call 817-877-3040.