“Look What the Fire Did” challenges family fiber

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Bob Evans | KC Applauds

Get ready for a thrill ride when viewing Lewis Morrow’s 2019 Fringe entry that takes the audience inside a family home as they confront the death of a black student and repercussions that follow.

Social media strings give insight into the loss of another black life and the need to understand that life matters. Audiences feel the pain in the community when a life is lost through violence. Morrow’s play takes the audience inside an African-American home where a family speaks openly about what happened, why and how it happened. Most importantly, the family shows the fiber of the human heart as their pain and suffering surfaces. The play takes us into the home and offers a different perspective and family dynamic we cannot see from outside.

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

Even though the victim is African-American, similar could happen with any person of color. Unfortunately, this happens more to blacks persons when confronting police. Morrow’s piece shows the inner-feelings that only close family and friends see. The story is chilling as Morrow slowly pulls the audience deeper and deeper into a family’s harsh reality. Their personal feelings and loyalty force the love to overcome their rage. “Look What the Fire Did” brings out far more than a story about police brutality.

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

Most notable is the strong dialogue Morrow is known to write. Each piece of dialogue moves the play forward, and the delivery of the lines gives depth and texture to the characters depicted in “What the Fire Did.” Going inside the family home, viewers see the tempest inside and hear of the calm facade to present outside the sanctity of the home.

Each character matters in “Look What the Fire Did.” Morrow, both playwright and actor is never stronger than when he delivers his own characters on stage. He cuts to the raw emotions and pierces the heart of viewers. In the same vein, his characters all possess a richness and reason.

Delivered by fiercely talented actors, a new perspective inside an African-American household proves this is the structure we would identify as the American way. The cast is: Dennis Jackson, as Vaughn, Lewis Morrow as David, Lynne King as Tay, Jerron O’Neal as John, Lanette King as Vita, Michael Morgan as Jamar. Ile Haggins directs.

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

Dennis Jackson and Lynne King portray the parents of the main character and show the values they instill in their children played by Morrow and Lanette King. Morrow and Lanette show the in-fighting among siblings and the motives that drive their characters. Jerron O’Neal plays a good friend of the family, and he is the father of the victim. His heartbreak is gripping. Making his stage debut, Michael Morgan plays the victim, caught in the turbulence by making some bad choices, so typical of young persons wanting to make a stand for something they value.

“David designed a course to empower young black minds. However, after the death of one of his students – killed on campus during an altercation with police – he can’t help but wonder if he empowered his students in the wrong way. Unable to make sense of yet another tragedy, David and his family discuss the situation, trying to understand their own feelings when the student’s character is attacked for past mistakes. Who will defend the student now that he’s gone? David will. By any means.”

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

The show plays at the Just Off Broadway Theatre on July 20, 21, 24, 26, and 27. Check the schedule for specific show times. Should “What the Fire Did” win Best of Venue, it will earn a bonus performance on Sunday, July 27 at 4:30 p.m.

Tags: ‘Look What the Fire Did’ review, KC Fringe Festival, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Just Off-Broadway Theatre

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