Racism remains a central issue in American society because, regardless of the laws that have been instituted to make it worse or better, we as individuals perpetuate attitudes that keep it alive. In his latest play, Brother Mine, local playwright and actor Eric C. Dente explores these attitudes in the setting of an interracial family and relationships.
Dente places Malcolm, an orphaned black child, into a white family. His new mother loves him, his father is kind, and his older brother picks on him just as he would in most families. When Malcolm grows up, the biggest issue between him and his white girlfriend is her pregnancy and whether they are ready to begin raising a family.
|David Pinckney as Malcolm|
David C. Riley as Anthony
The only racial issues that Malcolm faces are from his black hoop shooting buddy that questions his "whiteness" and the local skinhead crack dealer, who's got his brother, Anthony, strung out and in debt. Indeed, what Dente seems to be telling us is that Malcolm's abandonment issues and his emphasis on family are really the central issues here, not the bigotry and reverse bigotry that Malcolm faces on the street.
Dente builds his case with a series of forceful scenes that only occasionally revert to telling rather than showing their point. David Pinckney, as Malcolm, deftly navigates the emotional storms that arise from all directions. As Anthony, his brother, David C. Riley summons both the physical dependency and psychological duplicity of addiction. Supporting work from Margaret Amateis Casart, Vanessa Lunnon, Laurence A. Curry, Kurt Soderstrom, and Frederick D. Katona is excellent.
The dramatic arc of the story, however, takes a confused turn late in the second act, when the climax (a shooting) and denouement (Malcolm's reconciliation with his girlfriend) are inexplicably switched, leaving our catharsis out in the cold wondering whose story this is supposed to be. With the juxtaposition of a couple of scenes and a little less philosophy, this new work could pack a lot more punch.
The world premiere of Eric C. Dente's Brother Mine, directed by Christopher Tabb, runs through March 2nd at The LIDA Project. 303-282-0466.