“Lean in close and watch me now… watch me now, watch me real close…” It’s almost hypnotizing listening to the two brothers as they shuffle the cards- Who will come out on top?
Topdog/Underdog, written by Suzan-Lori Parks is an Arts Club production directed by Dean Paul Gibson. Starring Micheal Blake and Luc Roderique as the ironically named brothers Lincoln and Booth, two brothers in a feud. Power dynamics. Dark secrets. Remind you of something?
Though it’s difficult to get me to stop talking about anything in relation to The Lonesome West, Topdog/Underdog was particularly reminiscent of the play, like the exposition through repetition of certain elements (Murdering their father/Lincoln playing Abraham Lincoln at the arcade) and the quirky but threatening back and forth dialogue between the brothers. They are both “dramedies” but Topdog/Underdog focuses more on the drama. While the transitions back and forth comedy and drama felt very smooth and seamless, the pacing of the exposition and the revelations (especially because some of the revelations were meant to be a “surprise”) seems a bit rushed towards the end of Act II.
This “slice of life” type of drama is evident right off the bat with the set. The brother’s apart is set up on the stage like a giant had rough-handedly ripped out the front part and the audience sees a private moment of Booth practicing hustling right away. Through their window (literally and metaphorically) we can glimpse into their lives, even the most private parts. The set, with the wallpaper resembling tarot cards, and costumes, are simple yet effective.
The actors Micheal Blake (Lincoln) and Luc Roderique (Booth) were exceptional in their own ways. Their chemistry is charming- it’s as if they are real brothers bickering, the dialogue feels natural and realistic. To be perfectly honest my brother and I don’t converse that often (we don’t even see each other that often) but when we do that’s essentially what we sound like.
The Arts Club also offers Student Rush tickets, where with a proper student ID, tickets can be bought online, over the phone or at the box office on the day of a show for only 29 dollars. Link is below!
Go check out Topdog/Underdog for some laughs and uncover dark secrets.