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Lights of Broadway: Ain't No More (2022)




Ain't No Mo'

Synopsis: Ain't No Mo' is a vibrant satirical odyssey portraying the great exodus of black Americans out of a country plagued with injustice. In a kaleidoscope of scenes of the moments before, during, and after this outrageous departure, Jordan E. Cooper’s masterful new work explores the value of black lives in a country hurtling away from the promise of a black president


Review:

What would happen if the United States government offered all black individuals living in the US a one-way ticket and citizenship to live in Africa? In Jordan E. Cooper’s play “Ain’t No Mo’” the audience is invited to look into the window of an alternate reality where this is the case. Part biting comedy, part satirical political comedy, Jordan E. Cooper’s ensemble narrative is broken down into vignettes from the airport where Peaches the flight attendant is preparing the flight for departure to the reunion couch of the real baby mamma’s to a prison releasing incarcerated persons hoping to catch the flight back to Africa.


Right from the start, Ain’t No Mo’ demands from its audience exclaiming for the audience to cackle loudly, applaud fiercely, and talk back to the performers when the spirit moves them. In fact, in the first scene, as we say goodbye to the dearly departed brother right to complain, the cast speaks to the audience, demanding participation. What results is a scene-chewing ending with a gut punch that, while this show will be funny, it will have powerful emotional moments. The most powerfully written scene comes in the form of the aforementioned prisoner release. As Passenger #5, a role portrayed by Crystal Lucas-Perry, is released from Prison, she asks for her joy back as it was given with her personal belongings when she was incarcerated. What this results in is a powerful and impactful scene exploring what the prison system does to people of colour.


Simplistic yet effective, Scott Pask’s scenic design does an effective job of creating the various sets for the vignettes throughout the show. Most vivid is his ability to use tables/chairs/sofa’s to convey different scenes without the need for the bells and whistles of a large set that would dampen the pacing of the show between vignettes as they’d need ample set-up time. The show was helmed by director Stevie Walker-Webb who navigated the various vignettes and characters to allow for each scene to feel like fresh new characters despite being the same 5 actors.


Standout in this showcase is the role of Peaches portrayed by the playwright himself, Jordan E. Cooper. The flight attendant is the heart of the peace and the thread tying the show together. Checking in the passengers to the plane and highlighting powerful moments of the queer, black experience and how it intersects with the narrative established. Performed in drag with a powerful ending, it is to be expected that Jordan Cooper will secure a Tony nomination.


Overall, Ain’t No Mo’ was a fresh new show with a bold, brash topic. Through moments of comedy and laughter, the tragedy and trauma were lingering there still. Boldly stating its case it never once insisted upon itself or made the audience feel as if they weren’t in on what was happening. However, some weaker moments within the show led some scenes to have confusion more so on what the dialogue was as cast members in keeping up with the pace talked over each other.


This could be left to a sound mixing issue but may have been a weaker directorial choice. Ain’t No Mo’ earns itself a strong 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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