Review | Poetic and contemplative ‘Thoughts’

If anybody play involves signify the present Broadway season’s outstanding renaissance of latest works by Black writers, it can in all probability be Keenan Scott II’s soul-searching, rhythmically-driven, and widely-accessible drama “Thoughts of a Colored Man,” which was produced in Syracuse and Baltimore previous to the pandemic.

One of the encouraging and forward-looking moments for the theater business in the course of the pandemic occurred when the “Thoughts of a Colored Man” marquee was put in on the Golden Theatre in March, despite the fact that the reopening of Broadway remained unclear and unknown on the time. 

The play consists of interwoven scenes and confessional monologues involving seven Black males of various ages, backgrounds, and personalities over the course of a single day in a up to date Brooklyn neighborhood. 

The lads are every named for a defining character trait: Love (Dyllón Burnside), Happiness (Bryan Terrell Clark), Knowledge (Esau Pritchett), Lust (Da’ Vinchi), Ardour (Luke James), Melancholy (Forrest McClendon), and Anger (Tristan Mack Wilds). However regardless of their archetypal natures, the characters will not be easy stereotypes. Scott goes to nice lengths to richly outline every of them, together with their previous and current circumstances, desires and downfalls. 

As an illustration, Happiness is a homosexual finance exec who lives along with his companion and pet in a brand new condominium constructing and feels disconnected from the Black group, Melancholy is an engineering prodigy who gave up a scholarship to MIT with a view to deal with his sick mom and now earns minimal wage at Complete Meals, and Anger is a basketball coach whose skilled athletic prospects had been shattered by a knee harm. 

Earlier than attending, I questioned why the phrase “colored” is used within the title versus Black or African-American. I suspected that Scott was paying homage to Notzake Shange’s 1976 ensemble drama “For Colored Girls…” which can also be composed of poetic monologues. Nevertheless, primarily based on the textual content, “colored” truly has a shock which means, referring to the characters’ multidimensionality reasonably than their pores and skin shade. 

Whereas Black identification, gentrification, and connection to the previous are main matters of concern and debate, Scott additionally explores the exploitation of scholar athletes, police brutality, systemic racism, consumerism, the tasks, medicine, and gun violence – whereas additionally managing to sneak in some humor. 

Scott’s language typically takes on a poetic taste and fervor. Through the prologue, Melancholy notes how their ancestors “wanted us to live amongst the stars they charted for us. So why have we settled for the dim light of the moon and not bask in the sun?”

Beneath the sleek course of Steve H. Broadnax III, every member of the seven member solid has standout moments (particularly Clark and McClendon) whereas additionally contributing to a vibrant unified ensemble.

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