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Regional Reviews by Fred Sokol

Resurrection
Hartford Stage

Resurrection
Michael Genet (standing) and Thuliso Dingwall
Thematically rich Resurrection, Daniel Beaty's play in a world premiere production now at Hartford Stage, does not work with fluency. Focusing upon the lives of African American men, the script is moralistic and all too familiar. While the acting ensemble is strong and Daniel Bernard Roumain's original music intrigues, the production itself does not move and shake the theatergoer. This show, running for ninety minutes without intermission, is presented in collaboration with Washington DC's Arena Stage.

Young Eric (Thuliso Dingwall), a talented kid-chemist, is determined, as he develops an iced herbal tea mix, to relieve people's sorrow. Mr. Rogers (Michael Genet) is his fifty-year-old father who runs a health food store in Harlem. But his potential customers would rather eat soul food. Dre (Che Ayende) is a former addict and his pregnant girlfriend now has HIV. Playing The Bishop (oftentimes the centerpiece of the play) is the large and talented actor Jeffrey V. Thompson. He cannot stop eating junk food; unfortunately, he says this over and over and over again. The Bishop's son Isaac (Alvin Keith) is forty years old, has an MBA from Harvard, and is high strung. His own sexuality is an issue. Isaac's son 'Twon (Turron Kofi Alleyne) is about to go off to Morehouse College.

Thanks to designer G.W. Mercier, Resurrection has a cool, enticing look. Both buildings, representing—perhaps—brownstones and glass jars (which Eric utilizes for his mix ingredients), comprise a winning backdrop. Oz Scott, directing, paces the production with welcome vigor. The actors are quite prepared, animated, and they truly care.

Beaty's subject matter is of great import. Amongst other issues, he addresses: terrible eating habits, quest for identity, and the dangers associated with lack of responsibility regarding sexuality. Clearly, these African American men must cope with difficulties. For example, 'Twon is leaving home and a tight relationship with a woman. That is reality.

However, Beaty's work doesn't really flow smoothly as a theatrical play. Rather than evolving, it jumps from one moment and scene to the next. The actors muster plenty of enthusiasm for their characters, but the playwright seems to proclaim his contentions. Hence, some of the individuals appear to be one dimensional. Resurrection opens and closes with the actors in African robes, courtesy of costumer Karen Perry.

The script addresses matters which count—for everyone. While women do not appear on stage, they are, by implication, of great significance. As a total piece, however, Resurrection seems doctrinal rather than poetic. The play does not stir the soul.

Resurrection continues at Hartford Stage through November 16th. For ticket information, call (860) 527-5151 or visit www.hartfordstage.org.


Also see the current theatre schedule for Connecticut & Beyond

- Fred Sokol



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