“Black people are better than white people!” My six year old nephew insisted to his five year old white cousin. Definitely, it was a mean exchange between kids. But, it’s completely disheartening knowing that Noah is not black and not white. He’s somewhere in-between, a yellowboy. Greenetree Productions presents YELLOWMAN. Within a tight-knit Southern community, beauty is only skin deep. Lighter-skinned African-Americans are detested for their inferiority and superiority. Large, dark black women are considered lovable and leave-able. Gene is light-skinned. Alma is large and dark. As kids, they loathe themselves. As adults, they love each other. But how can love overcome hate? Can happiness fill the childhood voids left by hostility and repulsion? Childhood friends battle the enemy within to find their happy ending. YELLOWMAN discovers the biggest adversary cowers inside.
Playwright Dael Orlandersmith penned a modern-day fairy tale, Grimm-worthy. It’s a one-man and one-woman show as two narrations unfold simultaneously on stage. Under the skillful direction of Jonathan Wilson, J. Israel Greene (Gene) and Deanna K. Reed (Alma) grow from kids to adults. In their coming-of-age stories, there are a cast of characters all played by Greene and Reed. Without any props or wardrobe enhancements, they morph easily into different personas. The illusion is so real when Gene’s smart ass buddy returns, I see him clearly and know trouble is brewing. In one scene, Greene plays Gene, Gene’s father and the buddy in an out-of-control blistering fight scene. The stage is so crowded and then empty. WOW!
I saw Reed in last season’s production of “Under America,” where she plays a tired, cynical, matronly mother. Her shiny-faced portrayal of Alma makes me think she had *work* done… major work. Reed illuminates a young girl. She is a hopeful romantic. Reed’s description of heels clicking on NYC streets and walking into her own skin is inspirationally poetic. In the scenes Greene and Reed interact together, the synergy transforms from playful to hesitant to darling. Watching these two individuals grow up before my eyes, I’m fully vested in their stories. Their struggles with identity captivate me on a personal level. Childhood defines our sense of self. Our adulthood is a constant endeavor to discard the misperceptions to broaden our ability to live happily everafter.
YELLOWMAN is not black and white. It’s in between self-loathing and self-esteem. Experiencing the show is a profound reflection on the lingering effects of childhood
On his third try, Dick describes it with ‘misty yellow-colored memories.’
Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes
At Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont
Written by Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Jonathan Wilson
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Thru October 9th