When the members of the Carter family are first introduced in Ron Milner's "Urban Transition: Loose Blossoms," they are enjoying a happy holiday in a new home. Unfortunately, negative influences from the old neighborhood have made the move with them. What results is a bittersweet story of trust, temptation, pride, and honor.
Patriarch Earl (Jerome Preston Bates) injures himself while off duty from his job as a police officer. That leaves his son, E.J. (Chadwick Boseman), in a dilemma: Should he run drugs for to the family living room. Shirley Prendergast's noteworthy lighting impressively conveys the passage of tithe local dealers or see his parents and siblings struggle with a slowly dwindling income? E.J. chooses the former solution, which helps his family cope financially, but forces them to confront the legal and moral repercussions.
Milner's script is a mix of hard-edged drama, homespun humor, and statement-making monologues. He has created a circle of credible characters caught in realistic circumstances, and in the process makes a pertinent point-many people have an addiction to money that's just as detrimental as a drug habit.
Director Woodie King, Jr. makes each scene count, consistently controlling focus and pace with a sure hand. His competent cast, with Bates and Boseman leading the way, captures all the qualities of a typical American family faced with tough times. Dianne Kirksey, Sade Lythcott, and Monica Soyemi spiritedly play the clan's female members, and George Newton and Joseph Edward powerfully portray family friends on opposite sides of the law. Occasionally the histrionics go a bit overboard, but the ensemble's sense of camaraderie and comedy is convincing enough to overcome those minor flaws.
Set designer Robert Joel Schwartz lends a lived-in quality me. Sound designer Jairous Parker, Sr., mixes music styles masterfully, and Evelyn Nelson completes the family portrait with her costume selections.