Saturday, April 16, 2011


Psychologists cite a peculiar phenomenon in the death of a husband or wife: The surviving spouse is more likely to die in the ensuing year than he or she is after that year. Such is the power of grief.

Nathan Louis Jackson has written a touching play about a love affair which transcends death. BROKE-OLOGY, the study of being broke is getting its New England premiere at the Lyric Stage Company (through April 23rd) Johnny Lee Davenport plays a larger than life pater familias whose wife dies early in their marriage. Although he raises their two sons, he never “moves on” with his life. Now that the two boys are grown and MS is ravaging his body, he thinks more and more about her, longing to be by her side.

Jackson takes his time setting up the story. Although some of the scenes seem redundant (namely the gnome business), the father’s suffering comes through loud and clear. Monty Cole and David Curtis play the sons, with Curtis stealing the play as guru of the science of “Broke-ology”: a mathematical equation where a fried bologna sandwich equals a bottomless pit of poverty. Curtis postures and preens but we see right through his braggadocio to his deepest emotions, such is the skill of Curtis’ performance.

Director Benny Sato Ambush builds the momentum by having Davenport become more sonorous as his body weakens. Patrice Jean-Baptiste is lovely as the beatific wife. Her sweetness tempers all the testosterone on stage, making us wish we could see her in Act II. Thankfully, the playwright grants our wish.