Sporty driving: an examination of its shadow at the 16th Street theater

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Charles Andrew Gardner, Anna Dauzvardis, Marcus D. Moore / Photo: Anthony Aicardi

ADVISED

Theater writer Loy Webb’s second outing as a playwright, “His Shadow,” claims the runaway success of her 2018 debut, “The Light,” was no accident. In this new work, premiering in the intimate space of the 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, Webb addresses the controversy surrounding NFL players’ protests against police violence during the National Anthem since the 2016 preseason.

Webb calls his play “A Parable” and it’s structured as a creative controversy: Teeny (Charles Andrew Gardner) is the younger brother of Juice (Marcus D. Moore), an NFL football star who is, in every way. of the term, a perfect human being. Teeny, a gifted athlete himself, doesn’t like living in the towering shadow of his brother and goes to college as a quarterback in “Middle of Nowhere, USA” and quickly bonds with Kodak ( also Moore), a lively receiver who will help him fulfill his dream of making a name for himself. On campus, they fell in love with an activist, Rain (Anna Dauzvardis), who hopes to get them to protest a local police shootout. Teeny, replacing many Americans at odds with the Colin Kaepernick saga and others, voices support for his cause but doesn’t want to get involved lest it distract him from his personal goals. Until tragic events make the cause personal to him.

Webb’s story, with its excessive use of archetypes, borders on a didactic overflow, but whenever it gets close, the story manages to avoid it, often through games of clever words steeped in slang. And the effusively charismatic performances of the three actors, especially Gardner and Moore as “brothers for life,” deliver a painful message with a dollop of hope and warmth. Director Wardell Julius Clark keeps it all at a steady pace and, with actors playing multiple roles across multiple sets on a tiny little stage, all without giving up on clarity. (Brian Hieggelke)

16th Street Theater, 6420 16th Street, Berwyn, (708) 795-6704, 16thstreettheater.org, $ 18 to $ 30. Until October 12.


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