Review: The Meeting

The Meeting; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; $10-$15. Celebration Arts, 4469 D Street; (916) 455-2782; Through March 18.
Rated 5.0

Simply staged and expertly acted, The Meeting is one of the best Celebration Arts productions in recent memory. James Wheatley directs this one-act drama smartly and with real respect for the material.

Here, playwright Jeff Stetson imagines a meeting of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in a hotel room in Harlem in 1965. Although the meeting depicted is fictional, the words and actions of the two men are completely believable in the context of their characters.

Romann Hodge and James Ellison play King and X, respectively, and each portrays a strong sureness of self. Ray Garner is Rashad, X’s bodyguard, and in a small part manages to suggest the dedication of the firebrand’s followers.

Not much action takes place, but the growing respect each man shows for the other as they debate their very different approaches to the same problems of black disenfranchisement and the struggle for equality is powerful. Both men, convinced of the rightness of their approach to the struggle, were prepared to die for their beliefs. Unfortunately, they did.