Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Black Rep shocks with undercover sex play
by Marcus Ma’at Atkins

“I didn’t get with niggas to get high--I got high to get with niggas.”

This is the provocative dialogue that is said  by Dawud, the sexually inhibited and recovering drug addict played by Phillip Dixon while having a heart to heart at his house with his sponsor, Chris, played by Sir Gabe Ryan Cunningham and revealing his sexuality in the process.

It sums up the basic storyline to the urbanite play “Insidious” that is currently staged at the Grandel Square Theatre produced by  St Louis Black Repertory Company.  It also closes out the Black Rep’s  35th season. The play also stitches a seamless thread in the pathos between sexual identity and drug abuse.

Actor Nic Few (left), who plays the obsessive gay street hustler, Indidious, in a scene with actor Phillip Dixon who plays the secretly bisexual character, Duwan

Written by award winning New York based playwright Ibn Shabazz and directed by Black Rep Producing Director and Founder Ron Himes, “Insidious” tells the story about a soon-to-be married man, Duwan (played by Dixon) to another former drug addict, Kara (played by Jacqueline Thomas) who picks up a homosexual street hustler named Insidious (played by Nic Few) from a seedy park and secretly invites him to his home for sex. And when Duwan is almost caught in the act, his life unfolds. On the surface, “Insidious” comes across as a male on male  version of “Fatal Attraction” meets "Single White Female" with  Few’s character’s crazy obsession to Dixon’s character and his unwillingness to treat their encounter as just a one-night stand yielding a chilling, violent resolution.

Few and Dixon in the climactic scene from "Insidious" with Jacqueline Thompson who plays Kara, the wife of Duwan and Daniel Hodge (in the shadows) as Tajuan, friend to both Kara and Duwan.

The performances in “Insidious” were quite believable, compelling  and strong especially the main characters as played by Dixon and Few (who’s worthy of Kevin Kline Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor) respectively.  Adding comic relief to the mix were Cunningham who plays Chris, the free-spirited sponsor  and  Daniel Hodge as Tajuan, the flamboyantly gay health clinic assistant, who is also a recovering drug addict.  The main characters also speak about their truths with poetic monologues about how they became who they are and giving dimension to the ethos of one being “on the down low .”

Dixon in the finale scene with actor SirGabe Ryan Cunnigham (far left) who plays Chris, Duwan's sponsor/friend and Hodge.

 After the initial shock subsides from the raw sexual act between Dixon and Few (the silhouette screened sex scene played under a Donna Summer song is one the highlights), “Insidious” delves deeper into what all people experience—facing an addiction to something.  And in Duwan’s case, being forced to tell his wife-to-be of how he may have (or may not have) caught the HIV virus with a lie (drug relapse) or the truth (having sex with men unprotected).

Although "Insidious"  is a bit indulgent  at times(e.g. Chris says that drug addiction is insidious and Duwan says that he met someone named Insidious) and comes off as a doctorate thesis with stage dialogue, the conventions seem to fit in the world of according to the playwright’s vision. It also makes a point of how drugs and sex have similar outcomes: denial, guilt, anger, and acceptance.

The Black Rep should be applauded for taking on such a gutsy play with the controversial subject matter(a first for the company), but in the words of Himes from the playbill, the play, “challenges our audience and ourselves while stimulating dialogue about important issues in our community.”

And that’s the real truth!

By Ibn Shabazz
Directed by Ron Himes
Black Rep
Grandel Theatre
Through June 24
For ticket and showtimes call  http://theblackrep.org/

1 comment: