Seven Black males step onto the stage within the opening of Keenan Scott II’s “Ideas of a Coloured Man.” Over the course of the play, every will reveal a character and historical past, however not a reputation, although later they are going to introduce themselves as Love, Happiness, Knowledge, Lust, Ardour, Melancholy and Anger. Carrying completely different combos of black, grey and purple, they stand watching a hulking billboard that reads “COLORED” in declarative black caps.
One in all them then asks the query that begins the play: “Who’s the Coloured Man?”
It’s a query that Scott’s Broadway debut, which opened on Wednesday night time on the John Golden Theater, doesn’t fairly know how one can reply. Incorporating slam poetry, prose and songs carried out by its forged of seven, “Ideas of a Coloured Man,” which first premiered in 2019 at Syracuse Stage in a co-production with Baltimore Middle Stage, aspires to be a lyrical reckoning with Black life in America however solely delivers a gussied-up string of straw-man classes.
Set in present-day Brooklyn, amid the various symbols of gentrification (Citi Bike stations, Entire Meals and a Paris Baguette), “Ideas” employs vignettes to test in with numerous characters, who are sometimes grouped collectively. Although the present, directed by Steve H. Broadnax III, solely runs for about 100 minutes, it takes us to a bus cease, a basketball court docket, a barbershop, a hospital and different places, in a collection of 18 snappy scenes.
The characters, ranging in age from late teenagers to mid-60s, have particular themes as an instance: the elder Knowledge (Esau Pritchett) speaks about respect, historical past and ancestry; Anger (Tristan Mack Wilds) vents concerning the trappings of consumerism and the objectification of Black athletes; and Happiness (Bryan Terrell Clark) challenges notions about Black wrestle and sophistication.