Review: ‘What Men Don’t Say’ at Anacostia Arts Center

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J Weeks Entertainment’s What Men Don’t Say, starring and directed by J the Actor and written by Mone’t Bradley, is a mini-tour de force that puts a new twist on an old theme about men and their love relationships with women. Father’s Day weekend was a great time to premiere this one-man show about the male psyche in a play that shatters any preconceived notions you may have had about what really makes men tick when it comes to love.

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Photo courtesy of J Weeks Entertainment.

J the Actor portrays three street-wise characters named Do Right, Richard Johnson and Javon Williams who each have a story to tell. J’s terrific acting was lighthearted but intense and a few quick on-set costume changes were all it took to make you believe that you were listening to three totally different characters. The Anacostia Arts Center Black Box Theatre’s simple living room set was a cozy space to bring you closer to three dudes struggling to make sense of their love lives. Esperanza Weeks’ brown out lighting gave smooth flow to the static scene changes. And her sound board operation was right-on with Marvin Gaye and Frankie Beverly in the background adding mood music to the mix.

Do Right, an unkempt street peddler but funny philosopher talked about his past life as a high paid corporate exec who fell on hard times. A self-proclaimed “alcoholism research candidate,” Do Right takes a swig from his side-kicked brown paper bag as he tells you about his former life of greed and a desire to make a lot of money to take care of his wife and family. Ironically, a 90-hour work week in the corporate world ultimately led to the loss of the woman he was working hard to hold onto thinking that material stuff would have been enough.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71-gME27rXw

And women cheat just like men do. That was Richard Johnson’ sad tale about how his wife played him by having an affair with his own brother. Another hard-working man holding down two jobs to be a good provider, Richard’s wife saw sexier pastures all the while Richard did a balancing act between two jobs and picking up his son from the day care center.

Last in the lineup was young buck Javon Williams aka “Chase Smooth” who couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted to be a dog or a plain thug when it came to women. Javon’s “basketball position” theory about women was funny and fascinating as he unfolded his five-point description of the women on his court. According to Javon, relationships are all about position and he romanced five at a time just like basketball. There’s his #1 Main Squeeze who gets things done for him; #2 Afterthought who takes care of everything that his main chick doesn’t get around to; #3 Versatile who just believes in him which gives him the confidence to continue the game; #4 The Coolest who is a buddy friend ready for anything, and #5 Sex Only who is only good for –you guessed it.

Underneath Javon’s player swagger, however, is a past that includes a father who wanted him to man-up way too early. Seems that Dad forced him to go the distance with a prostitute on Javon’s 13th birthday which set into motion a life of playing women and using them for his selfish so-called manly needs.  Javon bares all, however, when he tells us that he is really sick and tired of running women and is not fulfilled by his sexual pursuits and conquests. Javon was looking for a quick fix to his Daddy issues caused by the man who took away his innocence. Standing alone in the dark, however, he comes to the stark realization that womanizing just won’t do it.

What Men Don’t Say deals with themes that men and women are perpetually exploring in relationships. It’s thoughtful and fun to watch and J’s passionate portrayal of this trio holds you in rapt attention. It’s a short one-act play and it might be interesting to see a fuller thematic development with the addition of the unseen female characters to broaden the dramatic element of the production.

The play’s urgent message is about the need for intimacy and it makes a strong statement that men want true love above all else. Beneath the masculine bravado and swagger is a simple man who just wants to love and be loved. It answers the question to “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” Apparently, everything, even if men don’t always say it.

Running Time: 45 minutes, with no intermission.

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What Men Don’t Say played forone night only on June 18, 2016 at the Anacostia Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre – 1231 Good Hope Road, S.E., in Washington, DC. For future events go to their calendar of events.

LINK:
‘What Men Don’t Say’ Plays at The Anacostia Arts Center on June 18th at 5 & 8 PM by Mone’t Bradley.