Pillsbury House Theatre latest production, “Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet” completes Tarell Alvin McCraney’s acclaimed trilogy of Brother/Sister Plays.
The play focuses on young Marcus, as he struggles to reconcile his sexuality and his ancestry.
Most critics gave the production strong reviews, citing Nathan Barlow’s nuanced portrayal of Marcus, Marion McClinton’s masterful direction, and McCraney’s distinct voice. But one critic found the show to be the weakest link in the trio of plays.
Nathan Barlow plays Marcus and he combines friendly approachability (the sweet) with dream-driven passion (the secret). This is not an easy combination to accomplish and kudos are due to Mr. Barlow and to director Marion McClinton for making the character work. McClinton povides us with terrific production: restrained, yet deeply felt. Excellent.
Director Marion McClinton’s magical staging, which opened Saturday at the Guthrie Theater, is a rare work that will be long remembered. McClinton, an expert interpreter of August Wilson, also is a master of the works of McCraney. The director has harnessed the talents of a young company of players into a beautifully acted, sweetly affecting production that is elegantly designed by Andrea Heilman (sets), Kalere Payton (costumes) and Michael Wangen (lights).
Tarell Alvin McCraney has something to which every playwright aspires: A voice all his own. He’s used it to create plays both personal and universal, frequently returning in his work to an African-American community on the Louisiana Bayou, where stories are shared of the ties that bind families and friends together… and the differences that drive them apart.
This time, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney’s more personal script lacks the depth of character shown in the past. Equally troublesome, Nathan Barlow struggles to pull off the title role, meandering through his moments alone on stage and disappearing into the scenery when stronger, brighter characters share the limelight.
“Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet” runs through Oct. 5 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Have you seen it? What’s your review?