Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Ong imagines a meeting between ambitious young journalist Steve Barron (Rafael Jordan) on an afternoon in 2010 and African-American singer, poet, and self-described "bluesologist" Gil Scott-Heron (Carl Lumbly), whose rap poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" made an appearance in 1970. It shot Scott-Heron into spotlight and was a permanent communication of the American vocabulary. He had disappeared by the mid-1980s, but in 2010 he made a successful return with "I'm New Here." The young journalist wants to know what happened during that 25-year gap.
Scott-Heron's apartment is chaotically displayed with books, tapes and memories up to the ceiling, and items flung about haphazardly in the room. We witness an intense flow of back and forth words and brilliant encounters between the two. The couple touches on legacy, art, hope and redemption.
I was mesmerized by the acting of Carl Lumbly and Rafael Jordan. Safiya Fredericks as Miss Julie, who lives with Scott-Heron, comes in at the beginning and returns toward the end of play; she gives an awesome performance.
Loretta Greco directs the production exquisitely. The set by Hanna Kim is a wonderful detailed version of the messy apartment.
Grandeur runs through June 25, 2017, at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd, Building D, 3rd Floor, San Francisco. For tickets 415-441-8822 or visit www.MagicTheatre.org.