Think about the story of your life, about how you came to be where you are and have the life you have. Got it? Are you ready to share that story in front of a live audience? For most people the answer is probably no and if the answer is anything that might be uncomfortable to audiences it is probably an even bigger no. But for comedian Felonious Munk, the answer is let’s go. Right now at Woolly Mammoth in D.C. that is exactly what is happening, Munk has written Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains) and under the direction of Anthony LeBlanc is bringing his story to new life.
The show is a story of transformation and redemption, it is very pragmatic and to the point but includes cultural spoofs, witty banter, and a conscience that will leave you in stitches. But the heart behind it is all real and all true, it is the story of how Munk went from a baby born to a teen mother with a choice to being a drug dealer in prison to the comedian and family man that he is today.
With a set cleverly designed to allow actors to pop up in many different areas of the stage and simple lighting with moments of strobe for special effect Set and Lighting Designer Robert Croghan has really added to the story without distracting from it. Both aspects are perfectly designed for the story playing out on the stage. Costume Designer Jesse Case adds to the environment with each actor wearing a variation on the same outfit to fit each ones personality. While wearing jumpsuits and boots there is so much variation and character that comes through each performer before they even speak.
It is truly an ensemble piece with each member stepping into multiple roles, with the exception of Munk who plays himself (naturally). Angela Alise shines as Munk’s mother, a teenager with a decision to make and then a woman who knows her son resents her. She has strength in both body and voice that commands the stage. She also closes the first act with a powerful singing voice with hilarious lyrics. Calvin Evans tackles Munk’s father as well as several other less than savory characters. He shows off his skills by finding the truth in the characters and while sometimes they may seem like a parody you still squirm because they remind you of someone you know or have met in life. McKenzie Chinn is every woman who has ever loved Munk as well as the boy whose life he could have had. She has a powerful monologue that awes and inspires, a truly talented performer Chinn shines in the piece. Odinaka Ezeokoli is one heck of a conscious to Munk! He gives life to the role in a lighthearted way that is lined with the need to get Munk to understand what he is saying. He is truly a conscious that any of us would want. As himself Felonious Munk really finds his truth, he doesn’t hold back on his problems, shortcomings, and mistakes. He shows himself exactly how he is and was, it is an accepting and honest performance.
The piece is moving and real, it doesn’t hold back. If listening about topics such as Ferguson, drugs, prison, or police brutality is something that makes you way too uncomfortable then maybe skip this show. However, if you are ready to hear truth, honesty, and are ready to be slightly uncomfortable but learn something and feel something then this show is for you. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this show since I saw it and putting it into words has been a journey to share how impactful this performance is. If you can get down to Woolly Mammoth and get lost in Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains).
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes with one intermission
Nothing To Lose (But Our Chains) plays through December 31, 2017 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in the heart of DC’s Penn Quarter neighborhood— 614 D Street NW, Washington DC 20004. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 393-3939 or purchase them online.