This one-man show, written and performed by American actor Colman Domingo, tells a familiar story: man in his mid-thirties revisits the childhood home that his parents are selling, and sets off the timebomb of memories contained therein.
Our setting is the rundown basement of an old West Philadelphia house: here, among dusty garden chairs and discarded toys, Domingo – or his fictional alter ego, though a glance at the script seems to indicate that he is talking about real places and people – finds boxes of soul records. This is the music that he grew up with: the soundtrack to backyard barbecues, block parties and his own journey to adulthood.
Snatches of music from these LPs – Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers, Aretha Franklin -– punctuate Domingo’s performance, which is not subtle: this is acting turned up to 11, with lots of eye-rolling and exaggerated enunciation, and could do with a little toning down.
But it’s impossible not to be carried away by his exuberant impersonations of the various members of his family: his crotch-grabbing brother Rick; his ghetto-girl sister Averie; his mother Edie, quietly consoling herself for her lost dreams with the soul music she loves. And his writing contains some beautiful lyrical passages, and some tearjerking moments – just like any good soul record.
By Laura Barnett