BOTTOM LINE: Pure Confidence is what a night at the theater should be! This play is entertaining, thought-provoking, and thoroughly engaging. You will laugh, cry, and even learn some American history. Playwright Carlyle Brown, tells the story of Simon Cato, a talented African-American jockey that dominates the race track, and his complicated relationship with his owner, Colonel Wiley Johnson before and after the Civil War. Brown skillfully delves into the complexities of slavery and explores the meaning freedom; his in-depth characters and unwillingness to make things simply black and white are what make this play so successful.
The ensemble of incredibly strong actors is phenomenal...there is not one weak link. Gavin Lawrence is perfectly cast as the sassy and confident Simon Cato. Christina Clark is wonderful as Caroline, the love interest of Cato; she has a beautiful voice and elicits tears from the audience as she speaks about the experience of being a slave to her former owner. Karen Landry is exceptionally delightful with her Southern charm and manipulation as Mattie Johnson, the wife of Colonel Wiley Johnson. Chris Mulkey actually makes us feel empathy for a slave owner as the Colonel. In addition to amazing acting and a strong script, Joseph’s Stanley’s set is absolutely gorgeous and the transformation from Act I to Act II is breathtaking. With the combined talents of Brown’s writing, the actors’ commitment to multidimensional characters, and Marion McClinton’s creative and riveting staging, this production is a definite success. The night I attended, the actors received a standing ovation. No longer hesitate, go buy your tickets now!
(Pure Confidence plays through July 3 at 59E59 Theatres, 59 East 59th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. Performances are Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm and Sunday at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are $45. Tickets are available at ticketcentral.com or by calling 212.279.4200. For more info visit 59E59.org.)