The Piano Lesson Review Essay

Submitted By LaPerish
Words: 2039
Pages: 9

The Keys To A Good Play

The play being written about in this review is entitled “The Piano Lesson.” This play was crafted by the late August Wilson. For this particular play, there was no translator and it is directed in its original format by Derrick Sanders. The presentation of the play took place at the UIC Theatre located at 1044 West Harrison Street in Chicago, IL. “The Piano Lesson” takes place in Pittsburgh in the home of Doaker. At 5 a.m., Boy Willie and his friend Lymon knock on the door, waking Doaker. Boy Willie addresses Doaker as his uncle and informs him that he and Lymon have come to the North to sell watermelons to acquire some money to buy the land of the late Sutter. Boy Willie informs Doaker that he would be short and so wants to sell the family piano to make up for what he will lack after selling the watermelons. Berniece (Boy Willie's sister) enters the scene due to an alleged appearance of Sutter's ghost. Boy Willie contests the existence of Sutter's ghost while Berniece provides her objection to selling the piano. Boy Willie and Berniece spend the entire play fighting over the fate of the piano. Avery (who is currently courting Berniece) the local pastor comes over to bless the piano to get rid of Sutter's ghost. Sutter's ghost appears and gets into a physical altercation with Boy Willie. Berniece plays the piano chanting “Help me” and names of her ancestors, driving out the ghost of Sutter. Boy Willie hugs his family goodbye and leaves. In this play, I felt as if August Wilson sought to present several different themes to the audience, one of which was family. The theme of family is prevalent throughout the entirety of the play, from the beginning to the end. The play begins with an embrace between Boy Willie and Doaker and ends with an embrace between Boy Willie, Berniece, and her daughter Maretha. And in every scene between the two scenes that the latter sentence mentions, the tension between the family constantly builds. In every scene that Boy Willie and Berniece are seen together, they are fighting. The fighting rises to the point where Berniece threatens to kill Boy Willie with Crawley's (Berniece's late husband) gun to which Boy Willie attests he isn't afraid to die. In the midst of the conflict, the family encounters something more dire than a disagreement and the two characters who fought the most during the entire play now join forces to combat the ghost of Sutter. After Sutter is driven away, all differences are forgotten and Boy Willie and Berniece hug. It is through these examples that Wilson is trying to communicate the importance of family to the viewer. Another theme that Wilson communicates in this play is the importance of knowing one's family history. The dialog in this production is riddled with reminiscences of the family that came before them. One scene is completely dedicated to the evaluation of the Charles family tree. It is as if in this particular scene, Lymon becomes the audience. Lymon sits with the three males of the Charles family (Boy Willie, Wining Boy, and Doaker) and receives a history lesson concerning the piano which by association gives him the family history as well. Boy Willie keeps the knowledge of family history by reminding the family of the mark that his father made on the family. The stealing of the Sutters' piano served as the moment that the Charles family received their independence. Boy Willie also believes that he is honoring his father by selling the piano, as he believes it is something his father would have done if he had not died. Berniece believes the piano is the representation of the Charles family history, which is why she refuses to sell it. In her mind, the piano is the most important item that the family has because it has the history of the family carved into the wood. And when it is played, it summons the spirits of the family members that have passed away. And so with this paragraph and…