Like its inspiration, Marcus Gardley’s play centers on a hero’s years-long journey home from war, during which, as a pawn of capricious and vengeful gods, he battles tempests and temptresses, his dutifully waiting and hoping wife always on his mind.The genius of Gardley’s script is that it reappropriates a foundational text of the Western canon — a literature oft used to justify the elevation of one civilization and the enslavement of others — as a means for Ulysses to tap into his own and his race’s history, to build consciousness and identity and worth.Squabbling mostly good-naturedly amongst themselves, Gods Deus (Lamont Thompson), Great Grand Paw Sidin (Aldo Billingslea, in a too-rare silly role for an actor usually cast as statelier characters) and Great Aunt Tina (Margo Hall) obsess over his doings, meting out punishments, then disguising themselves as mortals to unveil escape routes, only to send yet another obstacle for him to overcome.Yet whether an individual deity is out to get him or save him isn’t the point; “Black Odyssey” exalts a seemingly forgotten black man, asserting that his and his wife’s apartment in the Acorn Projects is as important, as magical, as touched by the gods, as the “bougie” Oakland hills, the play’s Mount Olympus and the Bruns Amphitheater’s stunning natural backdrop.At first, mentions of historical signposts like Emmett Till and Black Lives Matter, the Middle Passage, the Underground Railroad and the Great Migration all fly by so quickly and chaotically that nothing gets a chance to land; it feels like the play is trying to bid for topicality and significance just by naming names.A showstopping second-act scene with a Cadillac convertible makes this point most forcefully, as Thompson, now as “Superfly Tireseas” in a towering afro and a shirt that seems to be made of liquid gold (Dede M. Ayite did the regal costumes), exudes so much effortless cool that you’ll likely forever think of his native jive as the idiom of the gods.In a variety of ensemble roles, Dawn L. Troupe’s singing is so piercingly on pitch that the whole world, including the creatures and bugs who call the Bruns home, seems to be in sync with her.[...] singing himself in the show’s closing number, Nicholson has the range of a classically trained woodwind player, percussing out breaths in a way that makes you remember that the human voice is truly a windpipe.
NYS Entity Status
NYS Filing Date
JULY 11, 2014
NYS DOS ID#
NYS Entity Type
DOMESTIC NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION
2014 - HANDS SAVING PAWS INC.
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