Monday, January 16, 2012

"Through the Night" from City Theatre

"Through the Night" is a spoken word journey through one night in the projects of Ohio. The stories of Six African-American men, united by family, friendship and hope, converge in one night as each man faces a life-changing event.

"Through the Night" is a much-lauded piece that deserves ever bit of the laud placed upon it. What is unique about the piece is that, unlike so many spoken-word, monologue or "character-driven" one man shows, "Through the Night" is propelled through an actual storyline by the interlocking stories of the characters. So, rather than just be introduced to random neighborhood faces which make us either laugh or cry, the audience is given a plot to follow and invest in.

Daniel Beatty is the author, director and performer of the remarkable work which has appeared Off-Broadway. Beatty himself has been trained as an opera singer, actor and writer and uses every aspect of himself in the development of real, fully-formed characters. One character blows us away with his voice, another rises us to our feet with his words while Beatty alters and changes his own body to fit into the well defined characters.

The ease with which Beatty slips from one character to another, sometimes in the middle of intense conversations, is astounding. Female characters also abound, though his performances as the male counterparts - the husbands, the fathers, the sons - are the meat of the play.

Even beyond the actual performance of the piece, the heart of "Through the Night" is the play's ability to demonstrate life from a perspective theatre-going audiences rarely get to see. The work is inspiring without being insipid, moving without being heavy-handed, and hopeful with the ever-present threat of despair. While this review is admittingly a love-letter to the piece, a one man show that is this polished, this well-performed, and this touching should be loved.

However, if you still need convincing:

- The Eponymous Theatre Critic has had a lovely time abroad and wishes you all a safe and happy end times! Please look for more reviews as this will probably be the last year to ever see theatre.