“In the Shadow of a Dream” written by John A. Adams, directed by Alexander Harrington; starring Elizabeth Bove, Matthew Porter, John Fennessy, Laura E. Johnson, Nick Ryan, and Robert Vincent Smith.
The audience sees all of the accoutrements that represent the game of basketball. There are jerseys on display of numbers of two of basketball greats on the stage. They are Bird 33 and Magic 32 as a part of the presentation. It is show time! A guy enters the stage as he bounces a basketball as a college student with big dreams for the National Basketball Association, NBA. The audience knows it is not a game in Madison Square Gardens in Manhattan or in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This star is a few levels below Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the world of basketball, and he jeopardizes his chances of becoming a great star by beating another young man mercilessly. His coach thinks he needs help beyond what he can offer him after his stint in jail. At the moment, it is community service in his immediate future for his homophobic tendency.
Like most people with anger management issues and phobias, our star basketball player gets an assignment to provide homecare for a sick man, a dying AIDS patient, who is an older version of him in the bad-attitude department. Within his probationary period, the star basketball player gets some friendly advice from his counselor. The audience sees their initial meeting which proves to be very cumbersome, and it becomes the battle of the minds. Name calling and profanity permeate their conversation; but both of them prevail in their own way. They develop a dysfunction relationship and the star basketball player drives his patient under duress out of state, on a cross country trip to California. During their journey, the audience witnesses the highs and lows between them at different locations on their trip.
The patient decides to visit his parents’ home, and his showing up becomes unbearable; and the audience observes the upheaval in the home. The patient’s coming out was an embarrassment for his parents many years ago, and his presence reopens the wound that can’t heal for his mother. The star player gets an education from the University of Life.
The writer gets his message across to the audience in more ways than one, for through intolerance a dream can become just a shadow. Becoming a basketball superstar requires strong skills with the ball on the court, but soft skills are required both on and off the basketball court. Verbal and written complaints could have sufficed instead of a physical beat down that had dire consequences.
The reviewer’s point of view: If I were the basketball player, I would have used another tactic to get my point across. As the saying goes: “Liberation before preparation is a dangerous thing.”