Bhavi the Avenger
Marquis D. Gibson does something in his magnetic performance as the title character in Bhavi the Avenger that I don’t recall ever seeing in theater before: he pretty much singlehandedly makes sense of an entire 90-minute play. Solely through his remarkable moment-to-moment emotional investment in the role—which never wavered and never seemed anything but truthful—together with a dancerly physical presence that was mesmerizing, Gibson kept me engaged in a story, and caring about a character, that I am almost certain I would have found so layered under metaphor and parable as to be, at least on first viewing, puzzling.
Director Colin Hovde’s staging benefits from its leads: Nicklas Aliff shows off the crazed religious fervor that is the flip side of Brown’s empathy, while Marquis D. Gibson emphasizes Douglass’s dignity and canny reserve.
Marquis D. Gibson plays Douglass with a reserve and wisdom, with an eye on the prize but his own way to get there.
...associate pastor Joshua — played by Marquis D. Gibson with all the self-confident certainty of the young absolutist — to take the pulpit and challenge Paul.
A portion of Obama’s funeral oration, citing the need for stricter regulation of guns, is declaimed by Gibson (who is particularly good here). Imagining for us the Bible group gathering that awful night, the 90-minute show intersperses the singing of some rafter-raising gospel amid interludes in which each of the nine characters, ages 27 to 87, provide glimpses of their own rich, spiritually guided lives.
This is documentary theatre at its finest. Watching the actors morph seamlessly between the Charleston Nine and others—including a fantastic portrayal of President Barack Obama by Marquis Gibson—is supremely satisfying. The actors perform comedic and dramatic scenes with dexterity, providing an emotional roller coaster for the audience. But most impressive yet is the actors’ ability to simply be onstage. Never do they officially play themselves, but at times, they drop the characters and let their own humanity shine through the performance. Never is this more true than when they let go and sing.
Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope
The production is full of humor and hope, drawing on the comic elements in "Goin' to Town this Morning," for example, and led by Marquis D. Gibson's winning performance, which smiles through the flirty "My Love's So Good."
Marquis Gibson has a warm baritone and an engaging stage presence; he and the appealing Lauren Shaye make a good pair on a number of duets. (The love story between their characters, told through song, is the closest thing Don’t Bother Me has to a plot.)