The spirit moves
The Harlem-Renaissance whodunit "The Conjure Man Dies" is revived and so is the title character, who won't stay dead.
By JOSHUA TANZER
"The Conjure Man Dies," billed as the first whodunit written by an African-American author, is a likeable sleuth story combining mystery, macabre and madcap fun.
In the opening moments, four men rush onto the stage. One of them, noble looking and richly clothed, is dead. Another one, a doctor, examines the corpse and is immediately puzzled. The body shows signs of having been strangled but there are no marks on the throat.
This aspect of the mystery is soon solved, but others crop up one after another. After all, this is the "conjure man," the African-born neighborhood mystic whom Harlem residents turned to for supernatural help. Everything about the man's life baffles the doctor and the lead detective as they comb his unadorned apartment and question a long roster of suspects.
|THE CONJURE MAN DIES|
|Written by: Rudolph Fisher.|
Directed by: Clinton Turner Davis.
Cast: Peggy Alston, Christine Campbell, Everton Lawrence, Justice Pratt, Esau Pritchett, Kevin R. Free, Marcuis Harris, Cat Jagar, Eric McLendon, Curtis McClarin, Edward Washington, Tee C. Williams.
Most baffling of all, the body re-emerges seemingly every bit alive in the middle of the play. There is obviously more intrigue going on here than the detectives and the doctor bargained for.
This Harlem-Renaissance work shows its 1920s roots in its variety-show style there's a little mystery, a little singing, a little fighting, a little slapstick. At the same time, it stands up today as an engrossing mystery and an amusing lark.
|FEBRUARY 8, 2001|
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