(Above) Aunt Elegua (Margo Hall) questions Marcus (A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program student Richard Prioleau) about his dreams.

(Left) Marcus (A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program student Richard Prioleau, right) runs into Ogun Size (A.C.T. core acting company member Gregory Wallace) in the bayou at night.
Photos by Kevin Berne

MARCUS: or THE SECRET OF SWEET, by Tarell Alvin McCraney’s. The final installment of THE BROTHER/SISTER PLAYS TRILOGY American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94108. 415.749.2228 |

October 29–November 21, 2010


Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet, is the third of Tarell Alvin McCraney's Brothers/Sisters Plays trilogy, which has been staged in the Bay Area at three different theaters since early September. Marin Theatre Company put on a brilliant In the Red and Brown Water as the first installment. Next up was the gritty, stark The Brothers Size directed by Octavio Solis at the Magic. Now, A.C.T. brings the end of the trilogy in the debut of the expanded original version of the play. The three shows are linked by recurring characters and cover a time span of about 16 years. It is not necessary to see all three shows but doing so allows you a fuller understanding of the text.

Where the first in the cycle is the most mystical, all three plays rely on interpretation of dream sequences and in Marcus, a simple coming of age story of a black gay youth, the dreamscape opens the show. Sixteen-year-old Marcus Eshu (Richard Prioleau) is haunted by dreams of nocturnal visits from a mysterious stranger and of horrendous rainstorms. He fears talking of his dreams especially to his mother Oba (Margo Hal) who avoids questions of Marcus or his deceased father being “sweet.” Being “sweet” is black lingo for gay.

Osha (Shinelle Azoroh) and Shaunta Iyun (Omoze Idehenre), Marcus' two female friends inquire about his sexuality especially since Osha has a teenage crush on him. Shaunta is the most level headed about the “problem” and Osha eventually accepts what is. Complications occur when Marcus encounters Ogun Size (Gregory Wallace) that ends with a kiss seen by the girls and a teenage Terrel (the fantastic Jared McNeil who played Marcus’s father in part one). Further complications arise when a mysterious stranger Shua (Tobie L Windham) romances both Marcus and Osha. When Marcus tells Ogun Size his dream, Ogun recognizes that the man in the dream is Oshoosi Size, his brother who had an intimate relationship with Marcus’s father.

This is Mark Rucker’s initial directorial stint with A.C.T. and he does a masterful job. Rucker is known for his far-out staging of Shakespeare going for the jugular with his stagings. Not in this production: He recognizes the beauty of the words and storyline, moving his characters gracefully on a simplistic but artful set (Loy Arcenas) using projections high on the rear wall that enhance rather than overpower the acting. Those projections (Alexander V. Nichols) of rain and clouds are prophetic of the impending storm that will be Katrina.

Richard Prioleau as Marcus is believable with the proper shift in emotions needed for the part. Margo Hall, playing three roles displays her great acting ability investing each character played with a ring of truth. Gregory Wallace underplays his fragile role with grace and stature. All the minor characters solidify the play with big league acting.

Running time about 2 hours with intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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