An ambitious ‘Trilogy’ at Symphony Space

JODI STERLING | 6/28/2018, midnight
“The Trilogy,” featuring three one-act plays—“Ill Winds,” “Self-Inflicted Wounds” and “Codes,” utilizes galvanizing elements to portray the consequences of Black ...
“Ill Winds” Gary Batson photo

“The Trilogy,” featuring three one-act plays—“Ill Winds,” “Self-Inflicted Wounds” and “Codes,” utilizes galvanizing elements to portray the consequences of Black systemic oppression. Although writer Gary Batson notes that all three plays primarily concern fathers struggling with their children, the overall theme of “The Trilogy” is much broader. In the production, the themes of fatherhood and masculinity juxtaposed with various other issues of urban Black life allows the production to hone a more complex, multifaceted storyline. The last play, “Codes,” incites a twist by shifting the focus from a male protagonist to the struggles of the featured female character. Background music—Billie Holiday jazz to 90s rap—offsets characters grappling with sexuality and violence. The production harbors a broader message than just Black male struggles.

Although not always easy to follow, “Self-Inflicted Wounds” left the greatest impression in “The Trilogy.” In the play, co-producer Eugene Daniels plays Al, a father who retraces his steps to find the answers regarding the death of his son. Although the son, played by Ridge Cherry, has a disagreement with Al regarding what it means to be a man, he attempts to defy as well as fulfill his father’s wishes by trying to grasp his sexuality, ultimately leading to his suicide. Despite the brief appearance of Al’s ex-wife Flo, played by Laura Avant, her actions were the driving forces of the questions and the struggles of the male characters. The title “Self-Inflicted Wounds” pertains to the actions of the characters who, in their attempt to answer the lingering questions of their identity, wound themselves.

“Codes” brings a twist to “The Trilogy” by introducing components that contrast with the storylines of “Ill Winds” and “Self-Inflicted Wounds.” Not only does the play differ by featuring a young female protagonist, but also all the issues showcased in the production trickle down to the lead character. Played by Asha Johns, Lisa is a prominent character because her leading role does not fit into the production’s theme of featuring a distressed father. In addition, she is affected by all of the issues in the play, including gang violence, domestic abuse and poverty. Therefore, “Codes” is the most in-depth in illuminating the systemic issues within the Black community and how they consequently affect the most vulnerable.

“The Trilogy” is playing at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre at Symphony Space Friday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, June 30, at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.symphonyspace.org/events/codes-self-inflicted-wounds-and-ill-winds.