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Theater Review: ‘Broke-ology’

Though crisis in “Broke-ology” strikes an African-American family living in a rough section of Kansas City, its central theme — caring for aging/dying parents — transcends race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Though crisis in “Broke-ology” strikes an African-American family living in a rough section of Kansas City, its central theme — caring for aging/dying parents — transcends race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Despite a few forays into schmaltz by playwright Nathan Louis Jackson, the latest from the Lyric Stage Company manages to avoid being overly sentimental, thanks to the careful direction of Benny Sato Ambush.

With an emphasis on humor and the convoluted chaos of ordinary human foibles, Ambush’s supremely talented ensemble make it feel real as they tug at your heartstrings, tickle your funny bone and let you see how challenging life can be when the parent becomes the one needing love, care and protection.

The anguish of the youngest son (Monty Cole) is almost palpable as he grapples with leaving Kansas City and his dying father for a new life on the East Coast. Cole’s subtle embodiment of guilt and pain is a superb contrast to the boisterous ire of his brother: David Curtis flawlessly lets it fly as the frustrated older brother who never left home. Working at a fast-food joint and struggling to support his new baby, Curtis’ character is impatient and resentful, somehow seeming like the real victim.

Patrice Jean-Baptiste adds powerful scenes to the production with her quiet portrayal of the deceased wife and mother.

But the performance of Johnny Lee Davenport as William King is the glue that holds this piece together. Davenport, a much heralded local actor, delivers the performance of his impressive career as the patriarch faced with illness, death and the possibility of once again seeing his beloved wife.

‘Broke-ology’
Through April 23
Lyric Stage
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$25-$56, 617-585-5678
www.lyricstage.com

 
 
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