Making his directorial debut, Reginald L. Douglas brings to the Mosaic Theater stage a powerful, intense, and poignant play based on the true story of two brothers united by their love for music. One brother plays classical, the other plays jazz, and they are torn apart by ideologies and philosophies.
The stage illuminates the brothers standing in a prison visiting room engaged in a quick-pace animated bebop challenge, projecting their vocals as musical instruments into a crescendo of rhythmic jazz beats. Their camaraderie is warm and charming, against the ugly gray wall background and imposing black bars with a sullen correctional officer only an ear shot away. Not even bars are able to accomplish what the American criminal justice system has attempted to do in so many Black and Brown communities - - tear these brothers asunder, so it seems at first.
The brothers at the center of the play are surprisingly refreshing. They’re archetypal, yet novel. They are fascinating, unique, complex, contradictory Black men.
Bilal, played by Louis E. Davis, the older of the two, is a Muslim caught in a post-9/11 Patriot Act-era sting and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. His faithful brother, Eric, played by Joel Ashur, supports his brother and believes unequivocally that Bilal would never be involved with terrorists.
Whenever tensions between the brothers reach a boiling point over guilt/innocence, family upbringing, American politics in the Middle East, or the tenets of classical music verses jazz, they quickly revert to their passion for music and turn the scene to bebopping and rhythmic cadets before embracing until the next visit.