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Men in Riffs
Local actor Anthony D’Juan is both author and star of this moody, semi-autobiographical one-man show. It’s a series of portraits, some of them bleak and some humorous, involving what it means to be “a man” in the context of African-American culture. Some of the characters are pretty creepy—such as the long-absent dad, always promising to send gifts to his 9-year-old son, who then shows up with a six-pack and proceeds to drink most of the beer while visiting the boy. Other scenes feature a pimp, an opportunistic lover waking up after a one-night stand and a guy on a barstool … alcohol seems to be a recurrent theme. The 24-year-old D’Juan (who says he’s been writing since age seven) comes up with some good lines and situations in his script, and as an actor he shifts smoothly from swaggering braggadocio to introspective regret. He also does a high-energy dance to a Michael Jackson song, but the dominant musical motif comes from Marvin Gaye’s haunting soundtrack to the 1972 film Trouble Man. At around 65 minutes, Men in Riffs is not a long show, but it feels neither skimpy nor padded. Though it isn’t a breakthrough piece, it is well constructed and well performed. D’Juan is a young man to watch. Production values, however, are modest in this low-budget studio production.