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Blue Door

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Blue Door

Kes Khemnu and Johnnie Hobbs, Jr.

Blue Door
Tanya Barfield
The Arden
Jan. – March 21

When things fall apart we ask the big questions. Who are we? Where are going? How did we get from here to there. Transitions are the hard parts. In life just like music. Tanya Barfield’s work the Blue Door calls up the ancestors, much the way that an August Wilson play does.

There are only two men on stage at The Arden at all times but spirits abound. Good thing Walter Dallas is directing. The artists on stage are the gifted Johnnie Hobbes, Jr. and extraordinary Kes Khemnu. Hard to believe Hobbes is making his Arden debut. The veteran of so many August Wilson plays, Hobbes here takes the part of Lewis, a math professor at the pinnacle of success. He’s an African- American in an upper crust white college who’s letting his demons suck the life out of his achievements. It’s the eve of the Million Man March. Lewis is not marching. His wife has left him. Alone, plagued by his demons, Lewis spends a sleepless night, wrestling memories.

Simon, his dead brother, challenges him to beat back the demons, bring up the ancestors. The Blue Door is a duel between siblings.
The Blue Doorholds things. Things African- Americans want to say to whites. Whites want to ask of blacks. Feelings of discomfort and dislocation, the self-consciousness of being alone in the midst of others. It says things that are painful, things that are smart, things that are funny, very much to the point of now. Lewis is mordant, a man tied in knots with his inability to enjoy himself; Simon is playful, loose. He has an an earthy physicality that layers back in time. Funny that the ghost is so much more ‘present’ than the earthly man.

Lewis is so in his head, he has blocked the racial pain and injustice his family experienced, misunderstood the pain his father inflicted on him– blinded himself to the triumphs.
Don’t clip your own wings, the ghost brother says in the Blue Door.
Don’t clip your own wings.


Written by Lesley Valdes

January 26, 2010 at 3:23 am