Writer Ibn Shabazz brings us a cautionary tale of addiction, guilt, and the consequences of a string of bad decisions.
Kara and Dawud are a sweet young couple about to be married. Dawud is a recovering drug addict determined to stay on the sober path. His life is on track; he has a good job, money and the respect of his friends and family.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, Dawud has a secret. He’s on the “down low” a term for men who live a straight life but indulge in sex with other men. Dawud meets a young man named Insidious (played by Nic Few) and suddenly his ordered new life becomes a nightmare of lies and deceit.
Nic Few is remarkable as the unstable stranger who is at once menacing and charming and scary as hell. He moves from charm to evil to seduction to good-natured joshing in the blink of an eye. The depth of the characters volatility and unpredictability are ably explored and presented in Few’s performance.
Phillip Dixon as the hapless Dawud is helpless to resist evil and the man Insidious turns out to be his strongest addiction. Dixon is an excellent actor. He gives us an honest look into the innermost struggles of a man in denial of what and who he is.
SirGabe Ryan Cunningham is full of humor and strut as Dawud’s best friend and fellow recovering addict, Chris. Cunningham is also an excellent actor and we’ve enjoyed his performances in several of the Black Rep productions. Here he is strong supportive friend, aghast at Dawud’s irresponsible behavior but unwilling to judge him harshly. Cunningham handles this role with ease.
Jacqueline Thompson plays Dawud’s fiancée, Kara. She’s strong and take-charge yet entirely feminine. Her grief and confusion at learning of Dawud’s secret were genuine and heart breaking. Ms. Thompson should take pride in her main stage debut at The Black Rep. She gave a sensitive and moving performance.
Daniel Deshon Hodge rounds out the ensemble as friend and recovering alcoholic Tajuan. There is no doubt about Tajuan’s sexuality. Hodge’s portrayal of Tajuan is a stereotype of the homosexual flamer, but his performance goes deeper than that. Beneath the flamboyance is the kind heart of a man who has fully accepted who he is and, unlike Dawud, is okay with that.
Director Ron Himes does his usual wonderful job bringing this complicated and emotional play to the St. Louis stage.
"Insidious" continues at The Black Rep through June 24. For more information, you may visit theblackrep.org.