What it's about.
"Am I Dead? The Untrue Narrative of Anatomical Lewis, The Slave" follows the story of three individuals who have wronged the lives of three different men. The show is a retelling of the Egyptian myth of Osiris and Isis. In the play, three dead white individuals living in purgatory have to rebuild the bodies of the three black men they have wronged, with Osiris being all three men, reincarnated.
At first, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I mean, I had seen shows and movies about slavery and had history classes that taught about that horrible atrocity, but I had never seen a play about it. I mean, how does one write a play about slavery? Then I looked and found out that it was portraying the story of Osiris and Isis and I was even MORE confused. But watching this play made me think a lot of issues pertaining to the black community, and that felt good. Sometimes it feels like the only people who care are on those intersectional feminist pages on Instagram.
At times I would be laughing, but then right after I would be like, "oo yikes," or like sitting in my seat like, "is no one else seeing what's happening here?" But I was surrounded by older folk, so I kind of just had to sit there and take it all in alone. The character of Osiris was extremely animated, especially being that he played four different roles all at once: Osiris, Keith, Lewis, and Sy. And the way he was able to jump from person to person in a matter of seconds was really impressive. Also, Isis? She was amazing. She was everything I'd expect an Egyptian goddess to act like: strong and proud and very sarcastic and snappy. She had the fastest comebacks and funniest jokes in the entire show. And the character of Isaac reminded me of a lot of people (myself included), who, just like him, can't seem to find where they fit in. Granted, I'm not jumping from faith to faith in hopes of finding myself, but I can still emphasize with trying to belong.
The set was a small dimmed stage with rocks and Egyptian architectural molds everywhere. And after every flashback, white robes would fall symbolizing dead bodies. It really gave the feeling that I was looking into purgatory. The show brought up many controversial issues that plays usually stray away from. It talked about the fetishizing of black men and how they get treated like sexual objects. They had a character state how he only dated Keith because he was black and wanted him to take alleged built-up years of anger towards white people out on him during sex. And THAT was... something. I still don't even know how to process that. I mean, more conversations need to be held about that issue, but it was still really shocking to see in a play.
There was also a really over-exaggerated, but comical spoof of Rachel Dolezal, which was really hilarious but also a little uncomfortable and cringey. She came out with a box braid wig and fake acrylic nails and just acted like a stereotype of a black woman. Without context, it was really uncomfortable to watch. But mid-show they explained that her character was a white woman who pretended to be black as a part of a gag. It was then that I was able to understand her character and actually find her a bit funny.
The ending, when the characters turned to the audience and broke the fourth wall really nailed it for me. Osiris said, "you haven't been alone at all," and the whole cast turned and stared at us as the lights began to dim. Right after, I had to call all of my friends and try to, like, comprehend everything I saw, like, I was in shock.
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