Too Talented, Too Women, Too Much Talented Tenth

Few, Guillory. Photo by Josh Estes.

Richard Wesley’s nail-bitting new play is less a “play,” and more of an immersion into the life of Bernard (Nic Few), the title character, as he climbs the ladder of success as a Howard University graduate with all the privilege that a higher education and the contacts there can provide.

We meet him as a successful media executive, whose innovative leadership has made the empire such a hot commodity that the owner, Griggs (Ben Guillory, who also directs) decides to sell the franchise.  Bernard is fired when he protests the sale, as this move comes just at a time when he begins to tap into his nearly dormant sense of social responsibility.  We follow Bernard as he wends his way through this dilemma, the demands of his wife (the beautiful Tiffany Cody) and mistress (the equally gorgeous Jessica Obilom), and his own indecisions. The story unfolds with the support of the talented cast: Sterling Bradley, Monte Escalante, Julio Hanson and Rogelio Douglas III as Bernard Jr.

This might seem to be a familiar “riches to rags to redemption” story, but …

Wesley further enriches the tale as the characters face, not only the costs of the American Dream, but the issues of color as it is felt in the black community. When I say the story is a nail-biter, I mean that it is never clear that Bernard can extricate himself from the entanglements that he has generated for himself.  To playwright Wesley’s credit, the suspense continues until the end.

Now ensconced in at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, the Robey is a welcome inhabitant of the downtown venue. Set designer Edward Haynes has used one of its long stages to its best advantage, situating most action near the center, with only the standing slice of Tanya’s apartment off to one side. Lighting by Benedict Conrad helps the flow of action, and the stylish costumes by Naila Aladdin Sanders puts the play in an amorphous space that could be 1989 (when the play was written) or in the present. Cydney Wayne Davis’ music unites all the elements of stage craft for a satisfying whole.  

The Robey Theatre presents Talented Tenth at LATC, 514 Spring St., Los Angeles, 90013.  The play continues Thursday through Saturday at  8:00 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm through December 10th, 2023.Tickets range from $25.00 to $40.00.  Phone (213) 489-7402 or online: