That Serious He-Man Ball, Chicago Theatre Company

Parkway Playhouse
April 20 –May 27, 1990

Critical Response

“Lamont has set ‘That Serious He-Man Ball’ in a more physical environment: an urban basketball court. This concrete slab surrounded by a chain-link fence is where three friend, now in their early 30s, have met since childhood. And it’s where their self-doubt and competitiveness get a rip-roaring workout in an explosion of humor, pain, anger and reconciliation. . . .Twin (Johnny Lee Davenport) is on the corporate fast track (too fast, he confesses, feeling the pressures of being ‘the representative’ of his race) and is married to a white woman. . . . Under the intense, high-energy direction of Donald Douglas, the three-man cast engages in all physical and verbal acrobatics with a sweaty raucous ensemble spirit that recalls that Steppenwolf Theatre group at its best.”
—Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times (April 25, 1990)

“’That Serious He-Man Ball’ is not structured as a linear narrative but as a symposium at which the question “What is the measure of a man?” is argued. The sound and motion of the ball act as chorus. . . .This Chicago Theatre Company exploration of male confusion in late-20th-century America is prevented from becoming another piece of didactic dry-ass lit-ra-ture not only by [playwright] Lamont’s keen ear but by the superlative teamwork of Johnny Lee Davenport as Twin, Glenn Bradshaw Collins as Sky, and Thomas Anderson Marks as Jello. Under the direction of Donald Douglas, they keep a potentially maudlin script under a control as sure and sensitive as the control they exercise over the ball at all times (a very important consideration in CTC’s tiny performance space). This is a production that will probably go unnoticed by the NBA but should by rights attract the attention of the Jeff committee.
—Mary Shen Barnidge, Chicago Reader (April 26, 1990)

“Twin (Johnny Lee Davenport) is a rising executive with Xerox . . . has just ducked a promotion, miffed that he has been underrated in some ways and a little weary of carrying the burden of black arriviste, a little tired of what young white executives have long called the solid gold trap. He’s also guilty of betraying somewhat a fellow black worker, though he doesn’t see it that way, and much of what comes out in the drama concerns the way the three friends view one another’s lives, goals and failings. . . . . Lamont’s characters ring true and his dialogue is snappy and full of crackling day-to day speech . . . the capable cast give the play a fast-moving, frequently funny rendering, and the three even handle the tearful moments with dignity and believability.
—Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune (April 28, 1990)

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