Over the last 25 years, WIOD reporter/anchor Ed Goodman has reviewed and interviewed players from both professional and amateur theatre, music and dance companies from St Louis to South Florida. Ed earned a degree in Theatre Arts and has performed and directed in professional, and high-end amateur theatrical companies.
"Sons of the Prophet"
God, there’s a lot going on in the current GableStage at the Biltmore production of “Sons of the Prophet”. Take your pick: religion, racism, pain, misery, hatred, darkness, light, hope, love and good humor. All the things that help make up this thing we call life. In Joe Adler’s slick production, it all comes home to roost in a tumultuous ride through the angst of family function and dysfunction.
In a nutshell – Joseph (Michael Focas) is a former running champ, who now spends most of his time trying to find out what is causing his body to fall apart until tragedy strikes, when his father is injured in a car accident (and ultimately dies of a heart attack) caused by a prank cooked up by the local football hero Vin (Edson Jean).
Joseph’s old and ailing uncle, Bill (George Shiavone), is outraged when he finds out the kid is given a dispensation by a judge to serve his sentence in juvenile detention after the football season has concluded. Joseph and his younger brother, Charles (Michael Kushner) — who are both gay — are more sympathetic to Vin, because of his past and his future. Toss in Joseph’s boss Gloria (Patty Gardner) who makes the discovery that his family is distantly related to Kahlil Gibran who wrote “The Prophet” and off we go.
It’s from that premise this viciously funny, dark, introspective tragicomedy takes off, or perhaps better, burrows itself downward, trying to dissect the love, hate and pain that makes up their everyday life.
With ongoing references to Gibran’s 1927 perennial best-selling spiritual essays, “Sons of the Prophet” attempts to personalize the human condition and how we deal with everything from sexuality to death. Strong performances propel the striking juxtaposition of outrageous humor against the pain and suffering all the characters are dealing with, reminding us that most everyone looks for some sort of shelter while they deal with life.
It can be overwhelming at times just trying to sort out which bit of misery should take center stage – to me, the play’s strength and weakness. Too many under-told stories. Too many brushes with story lines that seemingly could have been better fleshed out by dropping one, two or three sub texts. With so many story lines to concentrate on, you lose the ability to really fully connect with the characters – especially in just 90 minutes.
A good job all around by the strong cast - taking on a tough subjects and making it work on a myriad of levels including the most important one – personal.
Gibran wrote: “…Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater." But I say unto you, they are inseparable…”. At GableStage, both are keys to how families endure and deal with the unfairness of life.
Good technical support too, with Lyle Baskin’s set making the most of the GableStage’s space limits by going up, using scrim and backlighting effectively to create a second level. Jeff Quinn’s overall lighting design shifted focus often, creating even more fluidity and space(s).
Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer Prize nominated play “Sons of the Prophet “ runs at the GableStage at the Biltmore until October 20th. Tickets at the box office or at gablestage.org