You feel his power, his presence, as soon as he sets foot on the stage.
Detroit actor Brian Marable has immediate, full command of your attention in Thurgood, presented by Irish Classical Theatre now until April 16.
A stellar one-actor show, Thurgood is the self-narrated story of Supreme County Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first person of color to serve as a Justice…for justice.
The set up for this script written by George Stevens, Jr. and directed by Steve H. Broadnax III, is that Marshall is returning to his Howard University alma mater to reflect on his life. Marable enters the space with a cane as support and the slow, deliberate gait of an older gentleman. As he tells his story, he’s transported back to his feisty youth, the cane is forgotten, the tonality of his voice changes, the alacrity in his storytelling becomes more vibrant.
This is fine theatre for sure. Marable is captivating and engaging, You almost wish you could ask him questions and enter a dialogue as he talks about Marshall’s family, his first marriage which ended when his wife died, his second marriage and their two children, and the shifts in our society. Marable deftly used his booming voice to illustrate the passage of time, speaking more brightly as the younger jurist and more reservedly in later years. This was a subtle yet very powerful manipulation.
The script is a social history lesson, too. Marshall the man grew up in Baltimore and had first-hand experience with segregation, which surely guided his civil rights position in later years. He’s not preaching nor dictatorial here: his passion is a sure and steady flame and Marable portrays this handsomely.
Playwright Stevens crafted the best kind of storytelling here. The history lessons are woven into the (imagined) narrative with great skill. We’re meeting the man while learning his truth and the truth of others who walk in his figurative shoes.
A simple set by David King, just-right wardrobe (a suit and jurist robe, of course) by Vivian DelBello, create the right ambiance.
A note: you’ll hear some language that may make you uncomfortable, racial slurs, and words depicting violence. This is history that is not sugar-coated.
For tickets and information, visit http://www.irishclassical.com.