THEATER REVIEW: Till The Break Of Dawn

Comedy meets political theory in the play Till the Break of Dawn. Written and directed by Hip-Hop theater veteran Danny Hoch, the 11 character production finds a group of friends living in New York pre-9/11. Staying true to the Hip-Hop culture itself, Hoch’s play running at the Abron’s Art Center in New York City’s Lower East Side introduces characters that represent the battle between activism and commercialism. The main character, Gibran (James Jostling) lies on the activist side of the Hip-Hop spectrum. His modest Brooklyn digs is the spot in which his group of friends meet to discuss their upcoming trip to Cuba for a music festival. Since most of Gibran’s friends are Hispanic their connection to Cuba is also rooted in a small level of cultural understanding. That is until Adam (Matthew-Lee Reach) walks through the door in all of his white boy glory. Adam is a Jewish music producer who works with indie artist but isn’t afraid to name drop artists like Nas in a sentence just to show he has clout. Though they initially protests Adam going on the trip (for obvious reasons) he’s funding it so they can’t really be too mad.Among Gibran’s most outrageous friends is Hector (Flacon Navajo), the young Puerto Rican New Yorker who’s so excited about “the revolution” that he never bothers to understand what it means. Instead he spews out the word every chance he gets as if he’s saying hello. Once in Cuba the group finds that the atmosphere isn’t what they expected. Though they never openly admit it their preconceived notion is that people in Cuba, namely Americans living there, are freedom fighters. Instead life in Cuba is much harder for both natives and immigrants. Hearing the terrorist have struck the World Trade Center is what brings all of the chaos to a halt. No more foolish arguments or banter. The raw emotion from Hector’s girlfriend (Patty Dukes) whose cousin worked in one of the towers and can’t be reached by phone brings everyone back down to reality. They re-establish what is important and think about how life can change in a split second. Till the Break of Dawn is interesting in that Hoch provides familiar ideologies as seen through the eyes of these characters. Everyone knows a guy like Hector who feels like “the man” is holding him down, but isn’t really mad enough to do something as simple as get a job to better himself . Or Gibran, who struggles with getting a corporate job when he too wants to make a difference in his community and among members of the Hip-Hop generation. The actor’s do a wonderful job in committing to each character so closely that it doesn’t seem like they’re even acting. Each act is highly engaging on a comedic level but equally thought provoking. This style is a testament to Hoch’s excellent writing and directing abilities. After all good art should leave you with something to think about, day and night.