Capsule Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater

That Serious He-Man Ball The "ball" in the title of Alonzo D. LaMont Jr.'s serio-comic drama isn't the dancing kind, although there's plenty high-stepping and neat little turns in the show. No, we're talking about shooting hoops. The plot centers around three black friends meeting for some friendly competition on the neighborhood court, evocatively conjured by James Thomas's sets and the autumnal light of David Gipson. They've known each other since childhood and have a deep bond that's weathered many a storm, but their lives have taken completely different paths. Twin (Davi Jay) is the buttoned-down success story, an investment banker with a Beemer and a white wife in the suburbs. Unmarried Sky (Broderick Jones), an employment counselor, longs for something better but doesn't know what that might be. And unemployed Jello (Steven J. Scott) still lives with his parents and won't give up his writing ambitions. The trio spars and sparks off one another, dishing and bitching about sex, lost dreams, the state of the world and their place in it as black men. Punches are thrown when the darts the men fling at each other -- born of frustration, envy or wounded pride -- find their targets, but as in life, nothing much gets resolved. Still, the three seem stronger than ever at play's end. We know full well they'll show up next week to shoot more hoops, and the whole rivalry/friendship will start up once more. The ties that bind these three strong men are more resilient than any outside force -- or even their own inner demons -- can rend asunder. Under Marsha Jackson-Randolph's spirited direction, Jay, Jones and Scott play a great game and capture their characters' special gusto with an intense warmth that's most appealing. Through October 17 at Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main, 713-520-0055.

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