Entertainment » Theatre

Turn Me Loose

by Dale Reynolds
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Oct 18, 2017
Turn Me Loose

Wow! This is an extraordinary bio-play on the late comic, Dick Gregory! "Turn Me Loose" by Gretchen Law, gracefully directed by John Gould Rubin, and starring Joe Morton, is brilliantly funny, exactingly acted, and totally relevant to today.

Richard Claxton Gregory (1932-2017) was a bold creature of the comedy world, bitingly accurate in his humor and in his insightfulness, charming in his social rebellions, and a strong mirror to his times, who has been brought to vibrant life by Morton (well-loved for his myriad roles, especially that of Kerry Washington's evil father in ABC/Netflix's "Scandal.")

On a stage that resembles a comic venue where comedians make their marks, Gregory's act, taken from years of recordings, makes fun of our government, our foreign policies, racism in its many forms, and the societal elements which go into sustaining them. His unique view on racism, for instance, included this pithy comment: "Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?"

In ninety intermissionless minutes, with Morton prowling the stage, refusing to be booked on the Jack Paar Show in 1962 because of its policy of disallowing African-American performers to sit on the couch next to Paar (which then allowed him to become the first of his race to actually sit and chat with the man). Morton at first wonders what self-destructive act this was, but relaxes in the memory of how it worked.

There's one other actor in the show, John Carlin, who plays a wide variety of characters, including being the warm-up act before the show. He's quite good at his variety but was given dreadful material as the Comic -- totally unnecessary as a brilliant comic is the main profile here. Quite bizarre.

This is a glorious play, extremely well acted, and very funny to boot. Stirring and amusing: a great combination for any play. See it. And let us hope it is bought for television (HBO/Netflix/Amazon, are you listening?)

"Turn Me Loose" plays through November 12 at the Wallis Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, 90210. For tickets or information, call 310-746-4000 or visit www.TheWallis.org/TML.

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