Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Dael Orlandersmith brings her slam-poetry-honed narrative to Pegasus, examining the bond and break-up of Alexis (LaNisa Frederick) and Jimmy (Brandon Thompson) in their harsh Harlem neighborhood.
There’s not much new here; Orlandersmith explores the stranger-in-my-own-land theme in other works and we’ve heard the story of a person saved by education before. But the evocative language dazzles as she shows us the bottom-line gimmicks New York life requires.
Thank God for Frederick; not every actress could keep up with the piece’s thick poetry. She brings a tough vulnerability that minimizes the melodrama and makes the show’s climax painful and plausible. Thompson and the multi-cast Caren Blackmore are strong and versatile but underused; the script forces Frederick to handle their dialogue as well as her own. More straight dialogue would create a respite from Orlandersmith’s torrential wordplay. We may have heard the story before, just not like this. (Lisa Buscani)
At Pegasus Players, 1145 W. Wilson, (773)878-9761. Through March 28.