(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

Courtesy of


David Cale portrays Central Park carriage driver turned accidental gigolo Kieran McGrath in Aurora Theatre Company's Bay Area Premiere of PALOMINO. Photo by David Allen

PALOMINO: Solo drama. Written and performed by David Cale. Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley.. (510) 843-4822. November 4 - December 5, 2010.


Solo performances are usually autobiographical often filled with personal angst and it is refreshing to attend the charming latest offering at the intimate Aurora Theatre. Multitalented David Cale, in preparation for a film part, replaced an Irish Central Park carriage driver for one month and discovered that many “things” happen during and after those rides in the park. Thus, the story of Palomino germinated and we are acquainted with an Irish carriage driver who turned gigolo.

He tells his story in a leisurely droll manner adroitly switching between his characters. Along with the Irishman driver, he creates four sexy woman and two gay men to tell his story. He isn’t very adept at female mannerisms embellished with higher vocal pitch, body language and hand gestures. To his credit he does not overdo the sterotypical affectations for his gay men. All this from a balding, not very handsome and self-effacing man. Although enjoyable, he fails to hold your attention all of the 95 minutes without intermission.

Our protagonist and narrator, Kieran McGrath has aspiration for writing a novel. While driving a carriage pulled by a Palomino pony in New York’s Central Park he is recruited by a pimp named Marsha to join her high-class escort service as a gigolo for her friends who require a young stud rather than gentlemen their own age. A “fee’ of $1,000 is offered. A writer needs a source of income to ply his trade, as a writer that is. In addition, what better way to become monetarily independent, have time to write having access to a plethora of new material, and doing what come naturally? Then we meet the women.

His first client Ruby, who needs an escort to a very social function at Carnegie Hall, also needs “servicing” afterwards. Extremely nervous Ruby sheds her reticence when it is time to reap the benefits of her purchase. Second up is Vallie and most of the story revolves around her. With money to burn, the ladies take their toy-boy from Manhattan to Los Angeles, Monterey seashore, London and an island in the Mediterranean. There is the clever use of projections appropriate for the time and place of the escapades.

The problem that arises to throw a monkey wrench into this idyllic life is that the women feel that they are falling in love with Kieran. That does not sit well with our budding author who has been writing down the details and conversations of his clients. Love is an anathema to him and when introspection suggests that this may be the outcome of his “business”, he abandons Vallie and his gigolo career.

To conclude the monologue, Cale devises a touching scene, bringing back the Palomino drawn carriage, this time with the Irishman whom Kieran had temporarily replaced. The passenger is a gay Londoner who has the unpublished copy of Kieran’s story and we are treated to some of the words spoken by the characters earlier. As we come full circle, one wishes that our trip in the Palomino drawn carriage had ran at a gallop and not a trot.

Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine