Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy Of is many things. It is a stinging indictment towards police brutality, It is a deep look into race relations in modern day Canada, It a an ardent love letter towards rap and hip hop, it is an emotionally intense drama, But one thing that all of these parts build to is that it is one of the best shows of the year.
The play follows the rap group Sal Copone as they react to the death of there DJ in a brutal police shooting. The play is narrated by Shey Ney Ney a crossdressing prostitute. He discusses the central issues of the play in a way that is both profane and poetic. The lead character is Sal a young black man who leads the group. He is utterly shocked by what happens to Freddy, the groups DJ who was shot by the police and begins the play hiding away in his room writing. Jewel is a young woman who also raps in the group. She is aggressive angry, sarcastic and my favorite character. Chase handles the business end of the band and tries to remain in denial about the injustices that the police’s actions show. Freddy’s little sister Naimi is very young and a little naive. She worries about what her big brother is doing in the aftermath of his friend’s death.
The play deals with a lot of issues. Including: police brutality and how it intersects with racism, Canada’s reputation as an egalitarian paradise and the many ways it is unearned, sexism and homophobia. Despite covering all of this territory in a relatively short play the characters never feel like there preaching to the audience. It all sounds like what the characters would say in the situation their in.
Another refreshing thing about the play is that very few scenes are only dramatic or only funny. Even in scenes that are mostly fun and humorous have a tragic tinge to them and even sad scenes have a bit of humor. This is very true to life. Very often people find humor in even the most tragic of circumstances.
(This paragraph contains spoilers) One of the most interesting elements of the play is how it subverts the usual structure of a tragedy. Traditionally tragedy is not really an unjust genre. The Traditional tragic Hero misbehaves because of a tragic flaw. At the end of the play because they could not overcome this flaw they are punished. In this play that is not the case. No one really has a specific tragic flaw, and in the end It is Sal, who arguably has the best balance between level headiness and justice who suffers the worst while Chase who arguably acts the worst out of all the characters and escalated the situation to this point is comparatively unscathed. There is a simple reason for this: Sal is black and Chase is white. A traditional tragedy leaves the audience feeling sad yes, but also very satisfied. This play leaves the audience angry at the status quo that allows such injustice and that is a very important feeling.
The acting is phenomenal. You feel like your there with the actors. Seth Whittaker is phenomenal as Sal. He perfectly captures all of the character’s emotions, his anger at his friend’s death, his guilt, his intelligence and artistic talent, and his protectiveness towards his little Sister. Leitia Brooks is also great in the role of Sal’s little sister Naomi. She really captures both the character’s naiveté and her intelligence. The two actor’s chemistry is perfect as well. They both act like a real brother and sister. Kim Villagante is amazing in the Role of Jay. She captures the characters’ anger but also her general emotional openness and sadness at her friend’s death.Jordan Waunch is great in the role of Chase. He brings a certain charm and wit to what is ultimately a very difficult character. Finally, Troy Emery Twig is phenomenal in the role of Sheneyney. He captures the character’s camp mannerisms and snark but also the character’s fear about the way the authorities treat him and his kindness.
Overall this is a really powerful and important play and shows why we need diversity not only when it comes to the actors we cast but also the creators we promote.