Monday, August 10, 2020

273. JAMIMMA. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

 Marcella Lowery, Arnold Johnson, Roxie Roker.

JAMIMMA [Comedy-Drama/Drugs/Race] A: Martin Evans-Charles; D: Shauneille Perry; S: C. Richard Mills; C: Edna Watson; L: Shirley Prendergast; P: Woodie King, Jr., and Dick Williams; T: New Federal Theatre (OB); 5/15/72-6/25/72 (48)

A brief Off-Off Broadway run in March 1972 preceded the move of Jamimma to this regular Off-Broadway production. Taking place in a Harlem apartment, Martin Charles-Evans’s very loosely plotted drama offered its performers opportunities for interesting character portrayals. The chief persons included Jameena (Marcella Lowery), a young, Black seamstress who prefers her part-time job to going into business for herself; her philandering, drummer boyfriend, Omar Butler I (Dick Williams); a predatory neighbor, Vivian Williams (Lucretia R. Collins),who deals drugs and hankers for the drummer; and an oddball janitor, Crazy Man Johnson (Arnold Johnson), whose teenage son dies of an overdose.

Martin Washburn was disturbed by the lack of depth in the characters’ relationships, but Howard Thompson praised Jamimma as “a toughly affectionate, wryly perceptive play about black people—caring, colliding, and clashing—that is genuinely engrossing” despite its unfocused development. The work was well staged and decently performed, observed Edith Oliver, who concluded, “I found much of the play remote, but I also found it better than merely promising.”

Charles Weldon and Roxie Roker were amont the cast members.