|the Samuels J and K (Paul LaNave and Wariboko Gabriel|
Semenitari, photo by Alyssa Kristine Photography)
|in Africa (Paul LaNave and Wariboko Gabriel Semenitari,|
photo by Alyssa Kristine Photography)
As the brothers Samuel J. and K., Paul LaNave and Wariboko Gabriel Semenitari create a really believable bond. In the intimate space of Gremlin's thrust stage there is nowhere to hide, and both are so unaffected and true in their portrayals, you can feel the hurt and the love. Paul has been seen on #TCTheater stages for a number of years, but Wariboko just made his #TCTheater debut in Underdog's How It's Gon' Be a few months ago and is already building an impressive body of work. Under director Brian Balcom, the well-written play flows smoothly between the humor and the drama.
Although the play is set in Cameroon, it doesn't really delve into the issues of colonization and warfare, or international adoption, except that the boys' mother does not want them to go there. And I'm not sure what it says that it's a white man who feels at home in Africa. But it's something to think about, and the heart of the story really is the complicated relationships in families, regardless of their origin.
Samuel J. and K. continues at Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul through August 4. (Be sure to check out the food truck schedule at Lake Monster Brewing next door for pre- or post-show libations.)