By Mark Gregory
Comedy Hype reviews Turn Me Loose play with comedian Mark Gregory.
“Turn me loose!”, Those were the last words uttered by Medgar Evers after being struck by an assassins bullet on June 12, 1963. Years later the spirit of those words are still alive & resonate. Today, they can be seen on a marquee outside of the West Side Theatre in New York.
Turn Me Loose is an Off-Broadway play depicting the life & brilliance of comedian & civil rights activist Dick Gregory. I had the opportunity to see this play a few days after it opened. Being familiar with Gregory’s work & body of accomplishments I still found myself in awe as Joe Morton flawlessly encapsulated the career & life of Dick Gregory into a ninety minute one-man show.
Beginning at his high school years to present day. Perfectly played out is the racial inequality Gregory experienced as a child. The pains of navigating through his teen years with an absentee father & the agony he & his wife experienced after losing their first child. Then as if you were on a roller coaster you are whisked out of the darker moments of his life to career defining ones. One in particular was his refusal to go on the Tonight Show with Jack Parr. During this time Black artist were allowed to perform, but could not sit on the couch for an interview. After turning down multiple invites, it wasn’t until he spoke to Parr himself, expressing his sentiments, that Parr relented & Gregory went on to have a stellar performance & eased his way into the hearts of mainstream America. After Dick’s performance the phone lines lit up & he was invited back on multiple occasions. During the play you see it was that quest for equality that fueled Dick’s career & where the title of the play derived from. Medgar Evers & Dick were great friends. Dick was in Mississippi two weeks prior to his assassination. Dick insists that he would have been right there with Evers, sharing the same fate if he didn’t receive a phone call notifying him that his newborn son had passed. So, Turn Me Loose were the words that created an unrelenting drive & refusal to be denied or subdued. This play is a MUST SEE & has received rave reviews! “A brilliant Joe Morton takes your breath away,” says Charles Isherwood of New York Times. Produced by John Legend, the play brought out the stars. Wesley Snipes, Ben Verene, Dave Chappell & Trevor Noah all came out to support. So come prepared for an awesome performance as well as a photo opportunity.
By Mark Gregory