Hip Shot: ‘FlagBoy’

FlagBoyPR copyFlagBoy
Warehouse – Next Door

Remaining performances:
Sunday, July 26 at 5 pm

They say: FlagBoy, a true and authentic coming-of-age story about family, friends, and HIV. Cornelius Jones Jr., a young southern black boy, explores his sexual identity as he navigates from the urban worlds of Virginia and D.C. to NYC.

Aaron's take: It takes a good deal of courage to open up one's life to an audience of strangers. And in some ways, Cornelius Jones' life is a profile in courage. But I doubt he would describe it that way. More than anything else, FlagBoy is about coming to terms with who you are—and what's impressive is Jones' ability to transform that self-awareness into a frank, funny, and revealing one-man show.

There's no overarching narration or exposition in FlagBoy. Rather, we're treated to a series of vignettes that take place over the course of Jones' life. He plays, at various times, his parents, his marching band teacher, his romantic interests, and the anonymous boys who snicker at his homosexuality. But most of the time, he's himself: a five-year-old budding diva singing in front of the mirror with his mother's makeup on; a ten-year-old experiencing his first sexual encounter; a fifteen-year old venturing wide-eyed into a gay club; and, finally, a young adult coping with an HIV diagnosis and a volatile sense of self-worth.

By simply being himself, Jones manages to avoid the pitfalls of moralism and self-righteousness. His light tone keeps things fun, but it also holds the audience at arm's length. You probably won't leave FlagBoy with a deep sense of indignation over prejudice or a burning desire to change the world—it's just not that kind of play. Instead, you're likely to walk away appreciating the guts it takes to lay it all on the line after so many years of frustration and confusion.

See it if: You never tried on your mother's bra as a kid and admired yourself in the mirror. That's just wrong. But, uh, it's sort of comforting to know that some other people did too and turned out okay.

Skip it if: You found the "See it if" in any way disturbing. This isn't the show for you.