Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

Top Dog/Underdog: Lincoln & Booth–A Tale of Two Brothers at MTC


Bowman Wright as Lincoln and Biko Eisen-Martin as Booth in Top Dog/Underdog at Marin Theatre Company

With this play, Suzan-Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for the 2002 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2002 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play.

Lincoln (Bowman Wright) and Booth (Biko Eisen-Martin) are brothers trapped in a dangerous sparring match fueled by their poverty, race, family history and prophetically, their very given names.  This two-handed family play centers on the love/hate relationship of these two Black brothers.  Lincoln, homeless since his marriage dissolved, shares his brother’s tenement dwelling and works in an arcade where, in white face, cloaked in a stove pipe hat, frock coat, fake beard, he plays the Lincoln who gets shot.  He is doing this because he has gone straight and rejects his former profession as master of the street con called three-card monte.  Art, his younger brother strives to learn the game and keeps practicing as the play progresses.  As the brother’s reveal their individual needs and reflect on their family history of abandonment, a cumulative tension develops between them.

The play works best of all in the strength of the performers, Bowman Wright and Biko Eisen-Martin, who are both undeniably excellent and the sharp direction of Timothy Douglas, rather than the writing which often attempts to be more profound than it is and could be less repetitious.

I strongly recommend the play for the professionalism of the cast and direction, Mikiko Uesugi’s realistic run down apartment, Callie Floor’s imaginative costumes and Kurt Landisman’s impressive lighting.  Top Dog/Underdog is destined to remain memorable. Susan-Lori Parks aims for the sky and often succeeds mightily.

Top Dog/Underdog continues at Marin Theatre Company through October 21, 2012. Performances are held Tuesday, Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. Matinees are held Sunday at 2 p.m and Saturday, October 20 at 2 p.m., and Thursday, October 11 at 1 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at 415-388-5208 or go online at

Coming up next at Marin Theatre Company will be It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play by Joe Landry and directed by Jon Tracy November 23-December 6, 2012.

Flora Lynn Isaacson

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