Saturday, May 17, 2008
Shows like this are the reason I love theatre so much. What a wonderful way to close the season. Laurence Fishburne is perfect in every way in his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall. I was involved for every one of the 90 minutes, and would have been happy for 90 more.
Playwright George Stevens, Jr. has given us a gift with this script, his first for theatre. (He has written for film and TV.) And director Leonard Foglia makes the most of both actor and play. I left the theatre feeling transformed.
I knew nothing about Justice Marshall’s life except that he was the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court. Stevens’ script and Fishburne’s portrayal brought his remarkable story to life. Presented as a speech Justice Marshall is delivering at his alma mater, the law school at Howard University, this triumphant journey from a childhood in the back streets of Baltimore to the Supreme Court of the United States is told with passion and much humor. Justice Marshall shares his many adversities, along with his rock-solid conviction that he would overcome them by using the law as “a weapon.” His recounting of the experience of preparing for and arguing the Brown v. The Board of Education case when he was chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People case is riveting. I felt a renewed pride in our Constitution and the way the law can work for the good when it is wisely argued.
And I felt blessed to be able to see this show, and to end the season on such a high note. I got home just in time to submit my Drama Desk ballot before the midnight deadline. Now I have a week off before seeing the first show of the 2008-2009 season, which will be another biography, this time of Teddy Roosevelt. If it’s anywhere near as good as Thurgood, the season will be off to a great start.