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BWW Review: HONKY at The Black Repertory Theatre Performing At The GEM Theater

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BWW Review: HONKY at The Black Repertory Theatre Performing At The GEM Theater

The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City presents "Honky", a new play by Greg Kalleres, April 25th through May 12th, 2019. Kalleres comical satire about race and advertising earned him the Urban Stages Emerging Playwright Award and has been featured nationally on PBS.

After the shooting of a young African American for his basketball shoes, sales among white suburban youths go through the roof. The cast of characters treads the swirling waters of race, rhetoric, appropriation, on the good ship commercialism. In an era that struggles with political correctness, this story pokes at the very words people speak and creates a stirring show. Honky toys with the guilt that occurs within the words and actions of everyone, of every race, in a way that offers honesty with no false solutions.

L. Roi Hawkins plays Thomas, a black man that grew up in a rich white neighborhood, who now struggles with the tension of creating and selling basketball shoes to a young urban demographic. Hawkins ability to bounce between emotional conflict and manipulation showcase his range as an actor. He strength is in peeling back the layers of this character enough that his guilt over maybe not being black enough drives his performance to nuanced crescendos.BWW Review: HONKY at The Black Repertory Theatre Performing At The GEM Theater

Michael Andrew Smith plays Peter, a white guy questioning the impact of the words he uses and the impact they have on others, as well as himself. Smith takes the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions that seem as if they're always on the verge of flying off the track. He avoids taking the character to predictable places which makes the role all the more interesting.

Christa James plays Andie, the very "white" girl who is fairly clueless about what she should and shouldn't say. Andie's racist views come across so innocently and Ms. James captures the filterless Andie in a believably authentic way.

Bryce Ostrom plays the rather villainous Davis, who is the exec from Chicago who can't possibly be racist because he's from...yes, you've got it, Chicago. Ostrom gives the character the knowing executive power while still keeping him scared and worried by the term racism. His telling line "What about you do you own" is a pivotal moment in the show.

BWW Review: HONKY at The Black Repertory Theatre Performing At The GEM Theater Teonna Wesley plays Emilia the psychiatrist who is helping white folks come to terms with their racism. Ms. Wesley keeps Emilia the consummate professional until she can absolutely take it no more. Once her patience evaporates she lashes out through the pain she has held back for so long.

Connor Eastman plays several characters and much to the comic relief of the show. Eastman's wit shines in every moment on stage - and sometimes in the most uncomfortable of ways. Eastman wrings every drop of comedy out of every line and is hilarious to watch.

Terrace Wyatt, Jr. and Jerron O'Neal are two urban kids that pop in and out of multiple scenes. The two team together and banter like old pros who waft between humorous and scary, and sometimes both at the same time. They often appear as the conscience of the show that treats all the characters equally awkward.BWW Review: HONKY at The Black Repertory Theatre Performing At The GEM Theater

Why you should see this show: Damron R. Armstrong directs this funny show that looks at the effort that goes into not appearing racist. Written before Obama became President, it humorously shows that the gage of racism is still stuck. But, by uncovering all the elements of the American psyche we may have a clearer path in finding our way.

The Black Rep of KC is performing "Honky" at the beautiful GEM THEATRE at 1615 E 18th St 64108 through May 12th.

Photos courtesy of The Black Rep of KC


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