WHY BLACK MEN PLAY BASKETBALL, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. In Brian Quenton Thorne’s contemporary allegory, basketball represents the journey of life as ten men express themselves and challenge and support one another on the court. The script urges African-Americans to continue to move forward. Stay in the game. Get over the bad calls. Hustle or you’re out.

Thorne introduces the men in pairs through games of one-on-one, then ups the ante by adding a referee, Rupert, who enforces the rules. David Adams–wearing giant, gleaming white basketball shoes–plays the character with such Mephistophelean confidence that fire and brimstone seem to flicker from his fingertips. Overall the cast is superb, even though some are unseasoned and haven’t relaxed into their parts. That’s life. That’s basketball.

Some scenes movingly reveal the indirect ways that men care for one another. Others are stunning in their emotional power. Amos Ellis gives the most commanding performance as a preacher forced to his knees at gunpoint by a young thug whose only skill is intimidation. The evening’s single brick is a false ending that digresses into a jailhouse conversion. Otherwise the script, staging, and acting are beautifully integrated.