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'Word Becomes Flesh' takes a Minneapolis bow

Posted by: Rohan Preston under Theater Updated: April 21, 2013 - 9:46 AM



It’s a pity that “Word Becomes Flesh” had such a short engagement at Minneapolis’ Intermedia Arts over the weekend.

More people needed to have had an opportunity to see Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s potent and absorbing hip hop choreopoem about fatherhood, love, history and the present.

The show, performed by a lyrical quintet of spoken word artists and dancers, is more than an updated male version of Ntozake Shange’s landmark “For Colored Girls.”

Joseph, a Walker Art Center favorite, crafted the piece a decade ago after a spiritual pilgrimage to West Africa. “Word” is a sequence of letters written by a father to an unborn son. The show offers advice and explanations in monologues. It has deft word play, using elaborate rhymes and subtle repetition to extend and sometimes contradict meanings.

The five performers — Daveed Diggs, Dahlak Brathwaite, Ben Turner, Mic Turner and B.Yung — take turns embodying their vignettes. They are committed and heartfelt in their performances, delivering with honesty.

It is a hip hop-inflected show —deejay Dion Decibels is an essential part of the team — but it’s not about pose or swag or the masks of the form. It’s a deep exploration of symbols and archetypes as they affect the present and the future. In other words, it is well worth a longer airing.

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