BWW Review: WORD BECOMES FLESH Captivates at Theater Alliance
Back by popular demand (and just in time) WORD BECOMES FLESH is theatre worth doing more than thinking about. This encore presentation written by Marc Bamuthi Joseph with additional dramaturgical compositions by Khalil Anthony and Dahlak Brathwaite and directed by Psalmayene 24 is an arresting composition of dance, hip-hop, music, and spoken word performed by an indefatigable five man ensemble. Louis E. Davis, Chris Lane, Clayton Pelham Jr., Gary L. Perkins III, and Justin Weaks, with nary a weak link among them, move with one heartbeat as they perform a series of letters from a young black man to his unborn son and explore what it means to grow up black in the 21st century. Sneakers squeak, sweat drips, music blares, voices reverberate around every corner of the intimate theatre. It's clear a rebellion is taking shape.
Director Psalmayene 24 does not want us to mistake this work for anything but a rebellion- a peaceful and artistic rebellion. Psalmayene notes the "arsenal of movement, sound, and lights" more powerful than bullets and bombs that the cast and creative team employ. The ensemble dives into the perpetual battle against terrorism African Americans have always faced while giving voice to an all-encompassing anxiety in the face of bringing a child into such an environment.
WORD BECOMES FLESH displays the fullest embodiment of bodies-a physicality so intimately married to the power and complexity of language that it at once feels like an affirmation, a confrontation, and an invitation. You will be left reeling. From the moment the lights gradually come up from total blackout, lighting designer William K. D'Eugenio and sound designer Nick the 1da work in tandem to ensure that we simultaneously see and hear the beating heart of this production. With the support of the entire exceptional creative team, the ensemble takes flight, displaying an impressive range of emotional as they flit in and out of the central voice of the young father.
If you want to see theatre for social change at it's most potent, check out the Word Becomes Action Festival at Theater Alliance. Theater Alliance strives to present thought provoking work that functions to engage the community in both dialogue and action. We can't just talk about theatre forever. The festival positions WORD BECOMES FLESH in conversation with four new pieces to expand upon the non-monolithic narrative of the African diaspora. Each playwright will lead a community-based workshop, creating the space for participants to formulate ideas, cultivate their own voices, and get in touch with nonprofits to really transform word into action.
WORD BECOMES FLESH runs through October 8th at Theater Alliance. For tickets visit https://theateralliance.com/tickets/
Running Time: 60 minutes without intermission