port of harlem magazine
woolly mammoth theatre
Crime, Comedy, and Messy: Incendiary

Jun 15 – Jun 28, 2023

Nehassaiu deGannes as Tanya

Incendiary, written by Dave Harris, is having its world premiere run at the Wooley Mammoth Theater in Washington, DC through June 25. In Harris’ tale, the moment the curtain opens the audience enters the frantic world of Tanya, a 53-year-old mother determined to free her son Eric from death row.

Tanya hasn’t been allowed to visit Eric in 10 years, but she unabashedly conceives a plan to ensure she visits him on his 33rd birthday, also his scheduled execution date. Her plans include four must do’s: One, purchase as many different types of guns as she can afford; two, visit the law firm of Markus and Marcus to prepare her will; three, visit her exercise guru for endurance training; and four, get a new hair style.

Though she refuses to reveal to Manny, her cousin and a backstreet gun seller, why she wants him to sell her so many types of guns, he delivers and Tanya writes him a check. Task one is done.

The second must do is a visit to Markus and Marcus, two lawyers who attract clients with a comical commercial message that has the audience roaring.  The lawyers draft Tanya’s will and she checks number two off her list. 

With two more tasks pending, Jasmine, her daughter, reveals messy family relations. Jasmine stoically tries to tell Tanya how she feels, the things her psychiatrist told her, how she remembers her childhood, that she is in love with a man that loves her. Tanya responds to nothing Jasmine says, her only concern is Eric.

Tanya later twists, turns, and aerobically jumps into completing task number 3 with workout instructor Gerald.  He shares that beatings from his mother motivates him to stand tall and work for the body he needed to fight for his life goals. 

Lastly, Tanya has a salon session with Joshua, who reveals that he has an incarcerated cousin who liked to act out sexual fantasies on child playgrounds during night hours.  Now that all the must do’s are checked, Tanya goes home to find Jasmine baking the cake she had been planning to bake. As Jasmine reaches out to her mom, Tanya only talks about the cake and taking it to Eric.
The execution/birth day arrives and Tanya wheels into the prison's visitor entrance a table with a strawberry cake lit with candles. A guard tells her she cannot visit, Tanya responds she came to see her son on his birthday and warns the guard do it her way or she’ll use her guns. 

The story shoots on, the pain the family has suffered is further revealed, and many in the audience is stunned. This play was a scary shock as it addresses complex family issues through an often comical lens, but Incendiary is a story that is truly worth being told.
Return to this issue's Main Page
sign up

follow us on
facebook instagram twitter youtube
Advertisers | Contact Us | Events | Links | Media Kit | Our Company | Payments Pier
Press Room | Print Cover Stories Archives | Electronic Issues and Talk Radio Archives | Writer's Guidelines