Review by Tim Lydeen
Brian Copeland’s Not a Genuine Black Man holds the record for the longest running solo show in San Francisco history, and after seeing its Burbank preview, I can see why. Based on his childhood, this humorous and sometimes heartbreaking piece tells us about the struggles he and his family faced after moving to San Leandro in the mid ‘70s when it was known as one of the most racist suburbs in the country.
Copeland brilliantly portrays a host of characters involved in his life. In addition to his 8-year-old and grown up self, there’s his feisty, foul mouthed, no-nonsense grandmother, his dignified, elegant mother (who insists she was born in Providence, RI even though she’s actually from Alabama), his bratty little sister and abusive father. There are also the landlords, building supers, cops, lawyers and judges all making the family’s struggle to stay in their San Leandro apartment almost impossible due to the color of their skin.
Copeland tells his story with wit and self-deprecating humor. It will have you laughing and crying while learning a little sociology. I highly recommend it.
Special Limited Engagement of Brian Copeland’s “Not a Genuine Black Man” at The Actor’s Group Studio, located at 2813 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank, on Saturdays at 7pm from February 2 to March 30. Tickets $40 online at BrownPaperTickets.com or by calling (800) 838-3006.