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Thursday, October 25, 2018

AMERICAN SON on Broadway with Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale

Playwright Christopher Demos-Brown's AMERICAN SON at the Booth Theater on Broadway has a potent social message of racial divides that repeatedly occur in the shootings of unarmed men of color by police.  "The Talk" is the conversation parents are now required to have with their children, especially children of color, on how to respond to any interaction with a police officer.   In this one act intensive play we experience the frustration & anguish of Kendra (Kerry Washington) the mother of Jamal, her 18 yr. old son who has not returned home or her numerous phone messages.  A tempest is brewing outside a police station where Kendra's mounting fears & frustration escalate as she seeks information & help from officer Paul Larkin (Jeremy Jordan) whose about to go off duty.  The white officer tries to placate Kendra who persists in seeking answers.  Her impatience and ire are met with threats of withholding information.  However, when Kendra's estranged husband Scott (Steven Pasquale) a white FBI agent enters he notifies the officer Larkin his is Jamal's father officer Larkin sings a different tune. Paul becomes fawning & more forthcoming with information.  Larkin can only confirm that Jamal's car was pulled over with 2 other black men in the vehicle and that the vehicle had a bumper sticker that taunts the shooting of police.  Tempers flare with mounting fears and Scott lashes out at officer Larkin in the presence of Lt. John Stokes (Eugene Lee).  Scott is swiftly cuffed and charged for an assaulting an officer.  More information is becomes released to the parents as it becomes available indicating an ominous outcome.  Kendra predicts the world is closing in on her son.  There are several strong messages driven home in the play.  There is no routine traffic stop for men of color and the world is not the same for whites and blacks.  There are many subtle & overt racist comments spewed from all parties that strike like a lightening rod.  The officer who pulled Jamal's car over is black as is Lt. Stokes. When the facts are read to Kendra & Scott by Lt. Stokes the pain is piercing yet it leaves lingering doubts as to the culpability of the officer involved.  The play is stirring drama with a superb cast.  The thrust of AMERICAN SON reverberates yet these racial injustices persist.  "I said that this could have been my son.  It's important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away."  (Pres. Obama)

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