Theatre Reviews
Joseph L. Edwards in "Fly". Photo by Keshon Campbell, courtesy of The Black Rep.

The current offering from The Black Rep is “Fly”, a one-person dramatic comedy written, directed, and starring Joseph L. Edwards. Premiering off-Broadway in 1997, it received three AUDELCO awards for excellence in Black theatre. The story centers around an African American man who believes he will receive the power to fly off of a Brooklyn rooftop on the night of a special celestial event.

Storyteller, Fly Lewis, is affable, relatable, and thoroughly watchable as played by Edwards. Accounts from his life run the gamut from family members to lost childhood friends to curious street muggers. Mr. Edwards is a master craftsman in his ability to shapeshift while sharing the comic and tragic experiences that have brought Fly Lewis to this particular moment in time. As an actor, he uses his voice and body to portray so many characters that I lost count. As a playwright, he writes songs, poetry, and stand-up comedy, as well as an incantation to the ancestors within the 75-minute play. As a director, he keeps the flow of the play moving well and the audience engaged. Joseph L. Edwards is, in actuality, a triple threat!

“Fly” isn’t your typical play. There isn’t a fourth wall; Fly Lewis speaks directly to the audience, and we are involved from the very beginning. The Hotchner Studio Theatre is a small space and feels very intimate which adds to the sense of being a part of Fly’s journey. The play is also a commentary on the continuing struggle of what it is to be a black man in America. As Fly builds his altar which will enable him to fly away, he reveals photos of heroes and lost souls. We are at last left with photo projections of heroes to remember and a call to arms to participate in social justice. This is a beautiful play that will lift your spirits and maybe give you wings!

“Fly” produced by The Black Rep continues at the Hotchner Studio Theatre at Washington University through March 10th. For tickets and information go to the Black Rep website.

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