You could be forgiven for being a little wary of Thurgood, George Stevens, Jr.’s one-man stage biography of the Hon. Thurgood Marshall, as performed by Laurence Fishburne. What’re the odds a grade school-to-grave account of the life of the first African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, boasting a star of such Zen-like solemnity that you totally believed him about us all being pickled, hairless pod-dwellers plugged unawares inside The Matrix, could be anything more than plodding hagiography? Great for high school history and government classes, but nothing made with such worthy intentions could possibly be any fun. Right?
Sez you. Point one, Fishburne, reprising his role from a Broadway run two summers ago, is as impish and avuncular as he is authoritative. Whether lurching across the stage with on a cane or channeling LBJ’s puffed-up, Lone Star imperiousness, he’s a captivating presence for every second of this 95-minute monologue. Point two, the story of Marshall’s life — one Stevens seems to have taken a strict-constructionist, if anecdotal, approach to interpreting — is simply a hell of a story, so rich in incident and character (and names — his Uncle Fearless gets a lot of play here) and humor and triumph that it seems too good to be true. Continue reading