It's not that they don't enjoy the luxuries. Kevin Lee Allen's spacious, New York apartment set is so rich with color that it resembles an art gallery. The new accommodations are definitely an upgrade from the days when the trio lived in the projects. And based on the frequent changes in Ali Turns' snazzy costumes, mom and son seem to be thrilled with the good life.
But what is great for one is not necessarily enough for others. While Masters earns the “meat”, Pauline and Alan experience the “poison” in their relationships with him. Rather than nurture his family, he grooms himself into Wilhelmena, the female character modeled after his wife that expresses sentiments that he cannot as a man. Masters is soon reminded that not all moments in real life come with a laugh track, even if Another Man's Poison has plenty of instances where chuckles don't need to be manufactured.
The themes of the piece vacillate as frequently as the mood to the play's detriment. While the show is comprehensive, Brome tries to pack in too many weighty subjects. As a result, several of them are treated too casually. Brome picked a fascinating decade to plant his story. 1970 was a time when many things were brewing: protests against the Vietnam War, new opportunities for black actors in entertainment, and the “politicizing of sexual identity.” Another Man's Poison has all of these, plus the dynamics of a relationship between a black man and a black woman, how the pursuit of success can damage a family, undercover homosexuality, persistent racial tensions, loneliness, depression and how comedy is used as a coping mechanism against pain. However, most of these topics are only broached, making the play scattered. There is enough material here for at least one more play.
Another Man's Poison may be stretched too thin, but it still makes a deep impact. With some reconfiguring, it will be an even stronger theatrical experience than it already is.
...Another Man's Poison