Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White (1966)
by Alice Childress
A story of miscegenation in 1918 South Carolina. Julia has just moved to a poor rental house, where she joins a small community of strong women of different sorts. She keeps to herself because of the stigma around her forbidden love to Herman, a white baker. Their love is real and lasting, but when he gets the flu, their different worlds clash. He cannot be moved to the doctor for fear of the affair being exposed. The thing blows sky high when Julia butts heads with Herman's mother. The excoriating language is brutal, shocking, unrelenting, and with a tragic ending reminiscent of Tennessee Williams. The result is despair and breaking off for Julia, until the following day when Herman returns on death’s doorstep. The final image is one of both love and resistance, and highly romantic.
The play includes a lovely portrait of the small community with children and their games. The coming death of the white male character is interesting, given the inversion of the general stereotype. As always, Childress has these terrific black female characters, and her knack for nuance in dialogue, as well as for conflict. The flu device is contemporary, and it works, though I am hesitant to go along with such plot devices these days.