last night, pat and i went to see laurence fishburne in "THURGOOD," at the boothe theatre. this was our second one-man show in as many months, following up on "the bully pulpit: quality time with teddy roosevelt," at the beckett theatre last month. "bully pulpit" set the bar pretty high, as far as one-man shows can go. fishburne, as and 80+ year old thurgood marshall, easily leaped that bar and reset it even higher! fishburne was in complete command of the stage during the entire 90 minute (w/out intermission) performance!
i'll admit, upfront, that thurgood marshall is one of my favorite legal minds of the 20th century. i eagerly looked forward to this show, especially after the positive reviews it received in previews.
ever since i read "simple justice," the powerful history of brown v. board of education, in college 25+ years ago, i have been in awe of his legal skills. the litigation strategy he and charles houston adopted that avoided a direct challenge to the constitutionality of "separate but equal" and, instead, insisted on "equal" facilities - gave local government a very expensive price tag if they insisted on separate facilities - was truly revolutionary. to this day i still recommend "simple justice" to law students and young lawyers starting out on a career in litigation!
i'll also add that i was as an intern for a good friend of thurgood marshall, the honorable constance baker-motley, during law school in the late 1980's. she occasionally share stories of thurgood's adventures with us! and, in yet another small world connection, this one-man play had its premier at the westport county playhouse - pat's hometown in connecticut!
as to the play itself, aside from the towering presence of fishburne, the only major prop on stage is a HUGE conference table and handful of chairs, set in front of a rocky american flag which doubles as a screen that has images projected on it during the play. he portrays a thurgood marshall in his 80's, giving a lecture at howard university. the monologue is far-reaching, starting with his childhood and runs through his significant legal cases, personal life, appointment as solicitor general and, finally, his years on the supreme court. it was a masterful performance and fishburne returned to the stage afterwards to acknowledge the audience's thunderous standing ovation!
rush to see this one because there are only a few more performances left before the limited engagement ends!
a must read for anyone interested in history of civil rights: the revised and expanded edition of "simple justice."