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128 NW Eleventh Ave, Portland, OR 97209 · 503-445-3700 · www.pcs.org
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Reviews of Gem of the Ocean

What Critics Are Saying 

"August Wilson is one of the best American Playwrights of all time, and the Century Cycle is one of the greatest achievements in American theatre." – BroadwayWorld 

"By story’s end, Gem of the Ocean reminds the audience of the fact that while freedom is the ideal, it isn’t free—and that for Black Americans, that bill has yet to be paid." – Willamette Week

"This is a transcendent play filled with magical realism and symbolism and words that will rock you to your soul." – Judy Nedry

"Never have I felt so much gratitude to actors for their vulnerability. Even the curtain call was full of emotion." – PDXParent

"August Wilson, however, transformed it into a shimmering image of spiritual redemption, of enduring strength and hope beyond hope." – Oregon ArtsWatch

"Introspective and keenly engaged with the problems of the world … the play shows that to fix what influences you, you first have to understand, and come to terms with, yourself." – Chicago Critic

"Wilson’s text is epically lyrical, almost operatic; the speeches are expansive and eloquent, almost arias. And his characters and interwoven storylines are richly textured." – DC Metro Theater Arts

"Wilson's masterpiece rings true today. … Gem was — and is — the great culmination of all for which Wilson stood. … He took a lot more time with Gem, and he was at the point in his career when he was most willing and able to take a risk, to lose the confines of realistic drama and to express the two great messages for his audiences that he spent his entire career shaping and honing." – Chicago Tribune

"As we hear the characters reveal their truths and hear Wilson reveal the effects of slavery and the sudden, incomplete, unsupported freedoms for the former slaves, we hear and feel history. But the characters move forward in hope … And, remarkably, they tell us to move forward in hope, too." – Pasadena Star News

"Gem of the Ocean combines a bountiful interweaving of historical references, personal and emotionally-tinged character confessionals, and mystical, magical elements to fashion one of the most fascinating and engaging works of drama I have experienced." – BroadwayWorld

What Audiences Are Saying

"See this production and immerse yourself." 

"A stellar and emotionally gripping production. Thanks PCS!" 

"Glad to see such a strong cast for this powerhouse show!" 

"African-American history is American history, and it is our history. The play brings it to life in a way that touches us on an emotional level." 

"It was worth seeing – complex, with multiple layers to discuss afterward." 

"The period and story of cross-generation storytelling was compelling." 

"Thought evoking play. Great to see theater again!" 

"As a nonbinary person, it was also comforting to see that there were multiple people in the cast/creative team who also use they/them pronouns." 

"Supporting Black playwrights' work and keeping it alive." 

"It was outstanding. Hard to describe all the varied emotions it evoked." 

"It was our first play at the Armory since COVID shut everything down. Being back at the armory was awesome!" 

"Well worth seeing." 

Portland Center Stage is committed to identifying & interrupting instances of racism & all forms of oppression, through the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, & accessibility (IDEA).

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