A Review by Erin Fair.
Sally Hughes, Nicholas Anthony Reid, Kurt Mason Peterson, Brie Eley
Five pillars adorn the stage with photos of Obama highlighting slightly raised platforms. From the onset, the clever use of visual voiceover to the beat of an African drum, you know you are in for an experience. Obama-ology opens with our protagonist, Warren, (Nicholas Anthony Reid) an idealist, fresh out of college, who wants to work on the 2008 Obama campaign. He hopes to inspire and motivate the population of DC, what he doesn't expect is to be dumped in the disadvantaged city of East Cleveland.
An optimistic and slightly pompous Warren arrives to the low-income area of East Cleveland and is immediately shunned by his fellow coworker Barbara (Brie Eley). With the nomination of Obama, Warren feels obligated to garishly present his education to his cohorts and to the citizens of Cleveland. This does not bode well with brassy Barbara. She tells him "you don't have to beat people over the head with your education and you don't have to hide it, just use it." In the play, just like life, use what you have and work it to your advantage.
Mr. Reid, brings a vulnerability to the Carlton Banks-esque character of Warren, and plays him with thought and precision. Kurt Mason Peterson and Sally Hughes shine and bring levity to their bevy of characters. However, the star of the show was Brie Eley who plays three diverse and dynamic characters. The sassy Barbara with the eye rolling, neck twisting, and finger wagging, the single mom Cece whose microscopic view of life would open and change, and Caits, whose brother was killed in the all too real scenario of cop vs. black man saga. Each character had their own problems and personality and Ms. Eley struck gold in each of her performances.
Obama-ology is a well written, thought provoking new play from writer Aurin Squire. It is powerful without being didactic, long, but doesn't overstay its welcome. With the current political and social state of America, it is a quite timely show. A cleverly crafted stage and expert use of narration you would be hard pressed to find something better if you're in the mood for a socio-politico drama.
Listen to interviews with the actors:
At the Skylight Theatre thru August 28
1816 1/2 N. Vermont Blvd.