Rivers Wash Over Me: John Young’s Drama of Black Teenager

The protagonist of John Young’s dark, mystery (and mysterious) drama, “Rivers Wash Over Me,” is Sequan Green (Derrick L. Middleton), a black fifteen year old from Brooklyn. After the death of his mother, Sequan is sent to live with his Aunt LuEllen (Leslie Jones) in rural Alabama.

In his new locale, he meets a dysfunctional group of characters including: his older cousin Michael (Cameron Mitchell Mason) who begins to abuse him; Ahmed (Duane McLaughlin), the school’s basketball star and drug dealer; his aunt and young cousin Charity (Tina Jetter) who both live in denial; and sheriff Charles King (Darien Sills-Evans), who is also a newcomer to the town and Sequan’s uncle.
But Sequan also finds a friend in Lori Anderson (Elizabeth Dennis), Ahmed’s white girlfriend, who takes him under her wing. Skittish at first, Sequan slowly opens up to Lori as she schools him on life in this dark, sleepy town.
Among other people, she introduces him to her younger brother, Jake (Aidan Schultz-Meyer), who she suspects would have much in common with Sequan, including a love of reading James Baldwin.
However, the town of Jefferson, Alabama has a seedy side. We learn that among its dark secrets is the theft of a gun from the high school principal’s car and a missing student. As Sheriff King investigates, he begins to reach out to his alienated and abused nephew.
The drama becomes more complex and more intriguing as the seemingly disparate stories in this small town become tragically entwined.