Bernard Goodwater (L.B. Williams) is an old jazz hand and specter who haunts and taunts his son Leo Goodwater (Marcus Naylor) with Dizzy and Bird’s nonsense phrase “salt peanuts”. Leo, a product of Generation Jones who never understood his father’s bebop-isms, is a slave to managing his diabetes and crack-like addiction to sugar.
This lineage gathers in the life of Marcus Goodwater (Harvey Gardner Moore), a writer and Leo’s son of the Hip-Hop Generation, who is trapped in a dream-like state after losing his young son on a merry-go-round.
While Marcus pieces the moments together in which he lost his son and desperately searches for him, these three men meet in physical and surreal worlds to hash out the sins of the father: absenteeism, misogyny, and neglect.
Though a lot of attention is given to the exchange between the men, the most developed and engaging relationship on stage exists between Marcus and his wife Yvette Goodwater (Briana Maia).
In Act I, the couple expresses thoughts of love and the loss of their son in a highly poetic style akin to spoken word. During Act II the language and movement progresses to a more natural tone as they argue over finding their child and relive their first moments together.
The storyline of Marcus and Yvette along with the performances of Moore and Maia are the most endearing. The dynamics and exposition of their relationship overshadows the generational struggles of the men, whose kinship doesn’t fully gel as believable.
There are wonderfully intimate scenes such as Marcus caressing Yvette’s feet and when they share the sunrise from the view of their new home. During these moments, the looming ghost of Bernard disappears and Leo sleeps, releasing us from the distractions of a subpar plot.
At best, Fathers and Sons grows into a love story; a story of black love between a man and woman and their efforts to maintain in the face of a father who has lost his son.
The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. presents Fathers and Sons
Written by Michael Bradford | Directed by Mary Hodges
May 7th – May 24th, 2015
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30PM
Saturdays at 3PM and 7:30PM
Sundays at 3PM
The Davenport Theatre
354 W 45th St | Between 8th and 9th Ave | NYC
Tickets | OvationTix | 866 811-4111
Website | NECInc.org