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Theatre Review: A Burial Place Is A Theatrical “Sixth Sense”

A Burial Place is the new thriller by Owen Panettierri that builds itself like the film,  Sixth Sense, and laces it with nuances on racial tensions. Playing from November 3 to November 19, this play, directed by Joey Brenneman, is an intriguing space to sit, analyze, and absorb race dynamics in terms of children, particularly the missing. This New Light Theater Project Presentation is artful in balancing the light-heartedness of youth with the darkness of society. 

When Marcus, Colby, and Emmett meet for their annual sleepover, there is a sense that this one will be the final one, and answers about their relationship and childhood mysteries must be resolved. The boys are heading to their their sophomore year of college, and the gruesome discovery of bodies in the local woods, has given each boy, especially Emmett and Colby, a feeling that all is not what it seems or was, especially when it comes to Marcus. Mystery and intrigue are at the heart of this play, as each audience member will try to figure out what happened to Marcus, and whether resolutions can be achieved in the 85 minutes that you are a spectator into these boys’ lives. 
Scenically, as done by Ashleigh Poteat, A Burial Place is perfect. The action is confined to Emmett’s parent’s basement, where the boys have always had their sleepovers. The space builds the mutual imprisonment and intimacy these friends feel between each other. Since childhood, they have been tethered together by traumas and laughter, but this year, particularly Colby (Max King), is ready to let go. He, like the others, struggles to see whether their friendships have chained or spurred each other’s spiritual growth. King is hilarious as Colby, and brings, for the most part, the wit and “zingers” that help to assure the play never gets too dark. After all, discussing death and missing children are not exactly “light-hearted” matters, but the chemistry between these friends helps the time and subject enter smoothly into the audience’s perspective so that they do not see such tragedies from their own discomfort but that of the victims. It is in these moments of reflection that Marcus, played by Deshawn Wyatte, becomes the heart of A Burial Place. 
Deshawn Wyatte makes Marcus charming mix of sweet naivety and gut-wrenching pain. While Colby uses humor, and at time enraged outbursts, to cope with the tragedies that have befallen Marcus, particularly for being black, Marcus reacts with a childlike confusion; adamant to not hate those that have hurt him, but eager to know how to love again. Both Wyatte’s Marcus and King’s Colby’s are dynamic personalities that are like magnets for attention, to which Maltby’s Emmett becomes a calming force. Maltby is kind, tranquil, and balanced throughout the play to assure that no matter how frustrated these boys may be from the world and life, they still keep optimism. 
A Burial Place was created in association with 5000 Broadway Productions 

November 3rd thru 19th, 2016
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre
312 W 36th Street
85 minutes no intermission