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Look Upon Our Lowliness: A Review

April 17, 2013


Last week I went to Billie’s Black for a cocktail and while there ran into the cast of Look Upon Our Lowliness, a new play by Harrison David Rivers being staged at The Harlem School of the Arts Theater. After a brief introduction, I made plans to go see the Friday matinee and I am glad I did. There are four more shows (Thursday – Saturday at 8:00PM and Friday at 2:00PM) this weekend and I suggest anyone who lives in Harlem likes theater is gay has ever had a friend to go check it out.

Conceived and directed by David Mendizábal, the story is about a group of friends and the fallout when one member of the group dies. Politics, love, life and plenty of drama ensues. That being said, the piece is well-written, with clearly-defined characters and dramatic – but not melodramatic – reveals. I could totally be friends with these guys. Hell, I pretty much am some of these characters. And, the acting. Let’s discuss the acting. It is an unfortunate truth that often with productions dealing with gay men often are overwrought with so much scene chewing that you’re ready to go within moments of the opening scene. That’s not the case with Lowliness. In fact, I was very pleasantly surprised and now willing to follow some of the cast on to their next projects.

Specifically, I’d like to point out Keith Antone II, who exchanged his cordial soft-spoken persona from Billie’s Black to a gruff, hardened exterior for the play. Taking on the time-honored role of the slutty one in the group, he does so in a way that differentiates him from just the slut and gives the audience a reason to root for him (much like Blanche from Golden Girls, Samantha from Sex in the City, Ricky from Noah’s Arc). By the end, I was ready to go ask his character, Julio, out on a date.

Also, I was really impressed with W. Tre Davis and Brandon Gill. Davis’ character is the timid outsider, the last one added to the group and having the least amount of ties to the others. He deftly handles that role, leaving multiple voicemails for the deceased member of the group, letting his emotions do the work for him. Gill, as well, fills his emotionally-charged role with a heart-felt realness that immediately draws the viewers in and makes them want to see more of him onstage. To me, he nails every scene.


Let me be clear, though, the rest of the cast does a great job. I will readily admit that I am a jaded New Yorker when it comes to live performances. It takes a lot to move me. And I was moved. So, with that, keep an eye on these actors as well: Tommy Coleman, Brandon Kyle Goodman, Michael Satow (who played the white guy, which represented… absolutely nothing; he just happened to be white. I love that.), Paul Pontrelli, Lelund Durond and Jared Paul Shuler.

“Look Upon Our Lowliness” is a production of the Movement Theatre COmpany. The Harlem School of the Arts Theater is located at 645 St. Nicholas Avenue at 145th Street. Again, there are only four more shows. Go to one of them.


Not yet following me on Twitter? Get on the sofa: @josephrileyland

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