Tuesday was a crazy day. I had to shoot video, record voice overs, record a radio show, make dinner and then get over to Geva Theatre and see Thurgood. One of my favorite perks of this radio job is that I get to see all the shows. I brought my 15 year old son, Shaun. I figured he should see a play about Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court. I’m a bit of a history buff and casual wonk, so I was interested as well. I knew that name, Thurgood. I thought I knew why I knew that name, but I really didn’t know anything.
Lester Purry delivers a captivating performance as Thurgood Marshall. I went into this play not knowing anything about it. I didn’t know it was a cast of one. i didn’t know it would be a guy on stage talking to the audience the entire time. Well, it really was a whole lot more than that.
First of all, we get serious insight into Thurgood Marshall, the man. By the end of the first act, you feel like he’s a kindly old man you met on the train who had amazing stories of his life to share. I think we’ve all been in that situation, where a person keeps yapping and yapping about this or that and we couldn’t care less. This was NOT one of those times. Learning about the 14th amendment to the Constitution was something I had not intended. Plessy v Ferguson and Brown v Board of Education both ring a bell from my school days, but I had forgotten why.
It is important to remember these legal precedents. It’s just as relevant today as it was back then. I would argue it is even more relevant today, because we’ve come a long way as a society, but not far enough.
Thurgood Marshall was a smart and fair man who brought a new perspective and set of experiences to the Supreme Court and he was there at the right time. I only wish he was still there.
My son and I were mesmerized the entire time. I made the perfect dad joke after the curtain call. “Thurgood was ThurGreat!” Yes, he gave me the 15 year old eye roll too…