Like many of my friends, I cannot remember a bleaker time in the political history of this great nation. But the other night at the Union Square Theatre, I had a true epiphany. The production was a one-man show by an artist of such dazzling gifts that I felt a burst of such spirit, such hope, that there were still things -- and people -- that would make it all alright.
The play was Daniel Beaty's Through the Night, and to call it a play is an understatement. It is an experience. The experience itself is orchestrated by the characters, a ten-year old boy trying to save his father's business, a health food store in a Harlem neighborhood, a pastor of a congregation of ten thousand who is himself addicted to Ho-Hos, (and in a booming voice) a closeted gay in the music business (you don't have to be in the service not to ask, not to tell), a sexy woman, a fearful father to be whose baby might have HIV, all of them portrayed, sung, danced and sent with great power into the theatrical ethers by Daniel Beaty, author, poet, spokesman for a multitude of those in a project, and, in my opinion, all-around genius.
Every issue that belabors the black community, drugs, obesity, sexual identity, every single concern of the humanists who worry about the physical and spiritual health of our country are here addressed. But, happily, they are in the form of entertainment, and a solo performance that seems as populated as the line of Rockettes at Radio City. The entire evening was so dazzling, I suddenly felt optimistic about the future. It is talent that will save us. The passion of the artist for his art, and, in this case, in spite of all, for his environment -- not the greenie kind, but the sort that makes one human being care about what will happen to another. The brilliance of the evening, besides the comedy, drama, and heartfelt imaginings -- is the presence of our better angels, who speak to the better part of us, that will make it okay. An absolutely dazzling evening in the theatre.
Follow Gwen Davis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theonlygwen