Thursday, June 16, 2016
The Total Bent
In this latest show, The Total Bent, Stew seems to loosely tie his first show's characters lives in. It's not a perfect match at all but there are similarities. This show focuses on a preacher-entertainer and his young son-singer (and if i read it right, a radio and televangelist out to make a buck). His son is gay and trying to make it by joining the black protest movement. Two very different viewpoints about how black people should live and be. Most everything about these two is about opposites - music, lifestyle, political views, beliefs. Family struggles. Religious struggles. Race struggles. You can see the powder-keg a mile away.
Much of this show is about the music and the band - it seems the plot is secondary - with Stew leaving much up to your imagination to connect dots that may or may not be there. It seems that it is really about ideas and themes rather than linear story. You simply get the highlights and it's up to you and your life experience to process. This can be frustrating for those who crave linear storylines. Just know that this is the case going in, enjoy the music, entertainment, and theme.
The concert-stage ready actors never fail to dazzle and blow the roof off the joint including the Marty ( the indomnible Ato Blankson-Wood) and Joe Roy (the powerhouse Vondie Curtis Hall) and the lone white-guy English music producer Byron Blackwell (the remarkable David Cale).
I don't think this one is destined for Broadway given the holes in the storyline. But an enjoyable evening at the Public Theatre is nothing to rattle your tambourine at.