“Nowaday’s any job is a good job.”
That’s William (G. Alverez Reid), patriarch of the King family in Nathan Louis Jackson’s Broke-ology, and if there was any doubt that the drama resonates with current events, that line alone should put it to rest.
The sentiment is also at the heart of the struggle between William’s sons Ennis (Jacobi Howard), a good-hearted, wage-earning family man, and Malcolm (Marlon Russ), an academic with realistic ambitions to escape his economic station.
Broke-ology opens as a flashback in the living-room of the Kings, a lower-middle class African American family in Kansas City. William King and his wife Sonia (Tricia Homer) are quickly established as loving, hard-working individuals with a strong sense of family and commitment to their community.
The play fades abruptly, however, into modern times with an aging William suffering from multiple-sclerosis and his two grown sons bickering over how to care for him.
Malcolm is recently returned from graduate school, struggling to choose between a job opportunity at home and another, more tempting opportunity in Connecticut. Meanwhile Ennis, Malcolm’s bright but under-educated counterpart, leans heavily on Malcolm to remain in Kansas City and share in the caretaker duties even as William does everything he can to maintain his independence and keep from burdening his family.
The play, produced by Theater Alliance as the inaugural full-run production at the now-open Anacostia Playhouse, is a solid choice. Theater Alliance’s mission to “present socially conscious, thought-provoking work” is honored by the piece as well. Broke-ology expertly weaves commentary on race, family commitment and modern-day economic struggle into one very smart production, in no small part due to the strong influence of director Candace Feldman.
Closes Sept 15, 2013
Theater Alliance at
2020 Shannon Place SE
2 hours with 1 intermission
Thursdays thru Sundays
There are endless opportunities for the play to preach or preen, but all are thankfully declined. Instead, the audience is treated to a work that is thoughtful and reflective throughout.
Broke-ology offers a strong kickoff for the freshly-opened Anacostia Playhouse and is hopefully an accurate portent of what’s to come.
Broke-ology by Nathan Louis Jackson . Directed by Candace L. Feldman . Featuring Tricia Homer, G. Alverez Reid, Marlon Russ and Jacobi Howard . Set Design: Harlan Penn . Lighting Design: John D. Alexander . Costumer Design: Reggie Ray . Properties: Kevin Laughon . Original music: Kris Bowers . Stage manager: TréWheeler. Produced by Theater Alliance . Reviewed by Jon Boughtin.