Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Turn Me Loose" at Arena Stage

"Turn Me Loose" flips back and forth through moments in Dick Gregory's life. While there are time/place markers projected onto the back wall, the clearest mark was actually watching Edwin Lee Gibson (playing Dick Gregory) shift his body into that of an older or younger man. The show provides a good primer for anyone not versed in Gregory, showing his wit, is willingness to be outrageous in order to talk truth about how this country was (and is) treating many of it's citizens, and his belief that fighting for people was the greatest legacy he could leave behind. For much of the show the audience acts as the comedy show audience and there are moments of direct interaction. 
There is one other cast member who plays a heckler, a cab driver, and a radio host, but 99% of the show rests with its star. 
Several audience members near me were murmuring in agreement, often commenting, "Yes" or "Oh that was deep" at certain points, lending more to the feeling we were just at several sequential comedy shows. 
There are some references to Obama and to the current president, but otherwise it stays farther back covering Gregory's direct work with Civil Rights leaders and also his work to be able to be treated - wherever possible - like a comic, and not just a Black comic.  
It's a wonderful show, and I was pleased to see it.