Adam reviews 'Mo-to-the-oncle' and 'Black Deaf Male: Who Am I?' 

In her acclaimed one-woman show “Mo-to-the-oncle,” actress and writer Melissa Cole dons a bottomless supply of wigs and accents to tell the story of Detroit Prince Jr., a Bronx teen who’s forced to wear a monocle to school after his single father loses his insurance and can no longer afford proper vision care.

As Cole launches into one deliriously silly monologue after another, interspersed with pre-recorded comedic bits in between, she deploys her squawky delivery and charmingly awkward physicality to embody eight different characters — from Detroit’s failed Motown singer father to the woke-in-her-own-mind glasses saleswoman, as well as Detroit himself.

The mixing of broad caricature with the serious topics of race, gun violence, healthcare, and economic disparity can make for uneasy bedfellows, but as Cole sings and dances her way through the narrative her impeccable delivery ensures the results are both surprising and entertaining.

"Mo-to-the-oncle" will not be performed again during Fringe 2018.

click to enlarge Fred Michael Beam in "Black Deaf Male: Who Am I?" - PHOTO BY ASHLEIGH DESKINS
  • Fred Michael Beam in "Black Deaf Male: Who Am I?"
Written and performed by Fred Michael Beam, “Black Deaf Male: Who Am I?” examines what it’s like to exist at the intersections of several identities, and the ways his lived experiences don’t always align with the labels that the rest of the world uses to define him. Standing alone on stage, Beam signs a heartfelt (if occasionally rambling) monologue, as we hear his words spoken by an off-stage interpreter. His words are backed by a slideshow of projected text and images, though Beam is such an expressive performer that the images feel almost unnecessary.

The show is a lively reminder of art’s ability to, with seemingly effortless ease, place its audience in another’s shoes. As it goes on, Beam’s personal narrative becomes a celebration of the pieces of his identity — each inextricable from the rest — that combine to make him exactly who he is.

"Black Deaf Male" will not be performed again during Fringe 2018.

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