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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Resurrection

Also see Susan's review of Ace

Resurrection
Thuliso Dingwall and Cast
Resurrection, the season opener at Arena Stage's Crystal City space in Arlington, Virginia, uses poetry, dance, music, and six riveting performers to illuminate a panorama of contemporary African-American men coping with life. Playwright Daniel Beaty has created a dramatic experience that can be seen as a rejoinder to Ntozake Shange's 1970s "choreopoem" for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, and the two works share a director, Oz Scott.

Resurrection concerns six boys and men at different stages of life. Mr. Rogers (Michael Genet) is trying to run a health food store in an inner-city neighborhood while raising a precocious son, Eric (Thuliso Dingwall). Recent high school graduate 'Twon (Turron Kofi Alleyne) is headed to Morehouse College, alma mater of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with the help of Isaac (Alvin Keith), a music industry executive who has trouble connecting with his own father, a megachurch pastor known as the Bishop (Jeffery V. Thompson). Dre (Che Ayende) is starting over after a prison sentence. All six are searching for ways to communicate with the (offstage) women in their lives and with each other.

Rather than following a linear plot, Resurrection revolves around issues of addiction, questions of faith, and the needs of the soul, which all take flight through the musical score by Daniel Bernard Roumain and the work of musical stylist Elan Vytal/DJ Scientific. From rhythmic interplay among the speakers to choral recitations and moments of song, the effect is a spoken-word jam session in which each performer gets a solo chance to shine.

Resurrection is not just a symbol of religious redemption in Beaty's view; it is a personal experience where people who have been brought low can rise up in hope and a vision of the future. Scott serves in the role of orchestra conductor, balancing the moments of joy and sorrow in an exquisite counterpoint.

While the entire cast works brilliantly as a unit, special mention should be made of young Dingwall's refreshingly natural performance and Thompson's interplay of broad humor and despair. Genet is touching as a man whose mission involves nurturing the health of both body and spirit, and Keith and Ayende get dramatic individual moments.

Arena Stage
Resurrection August 29th - October 5th
By Daniel Beaty
Music by Daniel Bernard Roumain
10/Eric: Thuliso Dingwall
20/'Twon: Turron Kofi Alleyne
30/Dre: Che Ayende
40/Isaac: Alvin Keith
50/Mr. Rogers: Michael Genet
60/The Bishop: Jeffery V. Thompson
Directed by Oz Scott
A co-production with Hartford Stage
1800 S. Bell St.
Arlington, VA 22202
Ticket Information: 202-488-3300 or www.arenastage.org.


Photo: Scott Suchman


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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