REVIEW:Too Heavy For Your Pocket

This is the last week to catch “Too Heavy for Your Pocket” at the Alliance Theatre, so don’t miss your chance to say that you saw it here before it heads to New York for a production at the Roundabout Theatre next season. This play is the winner of the annual Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition and playwright Jireh Breon Holder wrote it with that specific prize in mind. On opening night, he was seated in the audience with his grandmother, whose life was one of the primary sources of inspiration for the script, and her obvious pride and joy in the work was a beautiful celebratory experience to share.
The story centers around two couples living in a small town in Tennessee in the summer of 1961 whose daily ups and downs take a back seat when one of the men, Bowzie Carter (Stephen Ruffin) abandons his college scholarship to join the Freedom Riders. His wife Evelyn (Eboni Flowers) struggles to come to terms with this decision while their best friends Tony (Rob Demery) and Sally (Markita Prescott) try to comfort her as they await the birth of their first child and deal with their own issues.
Bowzie sends letters home describing his experience as he is swept up in a movement but left without the resources to help him get out of jail and come home. His friends and wife are torn between wanting to support him and disappointment that he has given up the opportunity to be the first among them to attend college.
It’s a debate that is sadly relevant to many movements today, not only Black Lives Matter but also the feminist movement, as some are moved to march and protest while others believe in fighting from within the establishment. With no easy answers, there is plenty of room for an authentic, dramatic struggle, and the play delivers the drama. Of course, without a genuinely felt basis of love between the couples, the tension would have less impact, and the relationships are established as true, human, and joyful as well.