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First Look: Tickets to Manhood

Bernard (Allen), a pretty young twink with a Daddy complex, marries a dominant, older man, and discovers after a late night on the town dancing with friends that his lover has a violent streak. "Farrah Fawcett's gone and I'm in her burning bed," he cries about the physical abuse suffered at the hands of someone he loves.

Ennio (Balduzzi) was sent by his mother to the church under the tutelage of "Monsignore," a priest who begins sexually abusing him at the age of 5. "His manhood was my pinata," the Italian explains in a shell-shocked voice about the only father figure he ever knew.

Walter (Scruggs) says in his neighborhood "prison was just someplace you knew you'd go" and "the sooner I get in, the sooner I get to be a man." Busted at 18 for possessing 2 joints, Walter fought off an attempted rape by his first cellmate. "I ain't kill his ass, but he didn't take mine," he explains. The fight led to a lifetime prison sentence.

Scott (Barros) joins the marines to become a man but returns to civilian life as a trained killer. His frequent nightmares about combat eventually scare his wife and children so much that they leave him. After seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder at the VA hospital, Scott joins "Ticket to Manhood" and serves as the group facilitator during the play.

Omen (Joseph) begins selling drugs at the age of 11 and, despite his young age, soon begs for initiation into the "click," a rite involving a slow-count, fifteen seconds of brutality by members of the gang. Omen survives and gains membership, but suffers great consequences for his involvement. The troubled man never knew his real father, so he takes drug dealer king pin Willie Song as his paternal influence.

Ticket to Manhood is a smart play, full of believable and interesting characters who collide in a powerful and shocking ending. The actors perform well both individually and as an ensemble, particularly author James Scruggs, who manages to evoke a laugh or tug at the heartstrings virtually every time he speaks. For everyone who is a man -- or knows one -- this is a piece worth catching.

A Mondo Cane! Commission
Directed by MARK RAYMENT

Friday - Saturday, July 29-30 at 7:30pm
Tickets: $15 (advance); $18 (door)
Dixon Place 161A Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002 Tel: 212 219-0736

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