Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: FOR COLORED BOYZ in Houston

Review: FOR COLORED BOYZ in Houston

Ntozake Shange's seminal work For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When Rainbow Is Enuf introduced the genre of the choreopoem to mainstream audiences. The choreopoem is a collection of short narrative epithets, poems, songs and dances to evoke a visceral and emotional responses from its viewers. The work is meant to pay homage to dramatic forms originated from Africa and Greece, in which the performance style is loosely structured and highly evocative.

Bryan-Keyth Wilson's original work, For Colored Boyz On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown/When Freedom Ain't Enuff was seven years in the making, and covers a wide array of topics that include toxic masculinity, homophobia, disenfranchisement, church hurt, xenophobia, drag culture, police brutality, dating in the millennial age and more. It jumps from era to era, sometimes mirroring experiences from the past with recent events in order to highlight the repetitive nature of the American experience.

The tediously crafted poetry, performed with verve by a committed cast of six African-American men, lives and breathes in a way that resonates with audience members long after the show is over. The words given to us find the delicate balance of depth and poignancy without being sentimental or oversimplified. This is a show that cuts deep with its use of reason then uses rhyme as a balm for healing.

Each of the six actors is only labeled by the color shirt they wear, which provides a host of characters in line with the mood the color elicits. For example, Man in Blue is moody and reflective as he explains his interest in drag performance,

"All the world's a stage No Matter your age Doctor/Lawyer/Teacher You put on titles and roles That's how our world goes You might judge and point with glee But you're a drag queen like me"

- Man in Blue

The actors presented a host of characters that showcased their strength as performers. Marvin Young (Man In Black) provided a wealth of charm and gravitas to his characters, while Jeremiah C. Gray (Man in Blue) showcased broad strokes of impeccable comedic timing, Kristopher Adams as (Man in Brown) captivated the audiences each time he articulately delivered the heavier pieces of the show with vulnerability. Amir Diamond's Man in Green and Greg Malonson II's Man in Red rounded the cast with characters that wore their heart on their sleeve and wanted to make a change. The chemistry between the actors and shared physical vocabulary made the experience both entertaining and unique. Musical interludes and powerful modern dance performed by cast members also help to move the pieces along and create a flow to the evening's proceedings.

A highlight of the evening was Man in Red's poem about Colin Kapernick's choice to kneel during the National Anthem that mirrored a famous passage from Hamlet,

"To kneel - to Stand- To Stand- perchance the opportunity to stand for a Cause: Ay, there's the rub! For in standing it is an act of valor and patriotism"

- Man in Red

By drawing a comparison of the sacrifice of fame within Black experience to the pondering of death within the most famous speech in literary history, Wilson's work boldly carves its own space within the theatrical canon just as its female-focused predecessor.

Viewing this work as an African-American man, I felt represented in a way that I had not seen onstage in a very long time. The production, which plans to various cities such as Austin, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago this summer, is a transcendent experience that I expect will live a long life and continue to uplift Shange's legacy for generations to come.

For tickets and information about this production visit:

Regional Awards

From This Author - Alric Davis

Alric Davis holds a B.F.A. from Howard University with a concentration in Musical Theatre and Playwriting. His original play Different, Damaged, Damned garnered positive reviews at the 2016 Capitol... (read more about this author)

Feature: BASHFUL AND THE NOIZE at Spring Street StudiosFeature: BASHFUL AND THE NOIZE at Spring Street Studios
August 12, 2022

Bashful, and the Noize is a One Act Slam/Hip-Hop Play centered around a sixteen-year-old Black boy named Bash who enacts a vow of silence after reckoning with sexual assault and grief.

Review: CLUE is a Breathless Murder Mystery Comedy at The Alley TheatreReview: CLUE is a Breathless Murder Mystery Comedy at The Alley Theatre
August 8, 2022

After experiencing personal darkness in the recent weeks, my mother and I looked very much forward to seeing Clue and getting some much needed laughter. And boy did we laugh!

Review: RUNAWAYS at On The Verge TheatreReview: RUNAWAYS at On The Verge Theatre
August 8, 2022

Housing instability can have devastating effects on the lives of the youth affected and severely compromises their ability to evolve naturally into adulthood. On The Verge's Runaways uses songs and spoken word to bring awareness to this still relevant issue. Catch it before it runs away!

Interview: Adam Kantor Talks NOIR at the Alley TheatreInterview: Adam Kantor Talks NOIR at the Alley Theatre
June 20, 2022

The Emmy and Grammy winner appears in new musical Noir until it closes July 3, 2022!

BWW Review: Life Rings With The Alley Theatre's Delirious DEAD MAN'S CELLPHONEBWW Review: Life Rings With The Alley Theatre's Delirious DEAD MAN'S CELLPHONE
April 21, 2022

A jovial spirit permeates the Alley Theatre as people pack in for the opening night performance of Dead Man’s Cell Phone, MacArthur Genius Sarah Ruhl’s effervescent, acerbic and poignant play. Director Brandon Weinbrenner offers a talented cast of six actors staged in the circular thrust Hubbard Theatre, actors with a wealth of talent who bend, break, and bow selflessly with brevity to get every single laugh they can out of the audience. And boy, did we laugh! This deliciously delirious production proudly combines surrealism and existentialism with knowing wit and gut-busting physical comedy.