Cameron Pfahler: Review of Julian Robertson's "Broke"

August 8, 2016 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Performers Academy is presenting an original production written and co-directed by recent Douglas Anderson School of the Arts graduate Julian Robertson, featuring local talent onstage and off. More after the jump!

A thriving cultural community depends on the public to provide certain things: open-mindedness, willingness to engage in the unfamiliar, and appreciation for the craft of artistic visions. But perhaps most importantly, it needs the public to seek out, celebrate, and support homegrown artists. Written by aspiring Julliard student, Julain Robertson, Broke is just such a production.

Broke focused on themes of identity, masculinity, and the difficulties of being trapped by one’s environment, as well as meditating on the nature of friendships, finding religion, and facing unrequited love. But the big ideas take a backseat to the tour-de-force of interpersonal conflicts that find characters struggling to escape their circumstances, both self-imposed and inevitable. The story follows Markis, as he returns to his hometown and runs into an array of old friends, though relationships have changed. He has a debt hanging over his head, and it falls to Red, an enforcer with both a conscience and an unscrupulous employer, to make the collection. With his past catching up and threatening any chances he has left at love or freedom, Markis must make some life-changing choices that will affect Red and several other characters making their way through a dangerous homecoming.
Inner turmoil and strife between friends and lovers generated much of the drama in Broke. The cast had plenty of opportunities to chew scenery with some very refined dialogue, while at the same time finding opportunities for abject vulnerability. Many of the thematic elements bleed through monologues and exchanges between characters, and they’re balance by relatable interactions and struggles. The pacing kept the showing moving along nicely, and ramped up at the very end to reward audience investment with some surprising and provocative outcomes. While some characters were featured more heavily than others, each of the actors made the best of his or her role and found a nice bit of humanity during key moments.
Supporting the actors onstage was the strong tech crew, who made quick scene changes and keep the light and sound fluid. The set design played perfectly for many kinetic scenes, simply structured with nice details and enough space for scenes with punching, jumping, or wrestling. Robertson and co-director Jordan Gregson knew their cast and material well, and the cohesion of story and composition showed up on stage.
Broke was performed last weekend, not only as an expression for the artists, but also as a means to financially support the playwright, who will be attending the prestigious Julliard School this fall. Our cultural community is only as strong as our willingness to make homegrown artistic dreams possible. If you missed the play but would still like help Jacksonville artist Julian go to the most prestigious art school in the country, his GoFundMe page is here: Help Send Julian to Juilliard


Gino Liardo
Sophia Rizzuto
Paxton Sanchez
Kamari Saxon
Terrence Scott
Allison Svagdis


Co-director/Playwright               Julian Robertson
Co-director/Costume Designer  Jordan Gregson
Stage Manager                          Manasseh Lewis
Asst. Stage Manager                 Carter Delegal
Asst. Stage Manager                 Dante Gregson
Scenic Designer                        Todd Collins
Lighting Designer                      Desiree Stant
Lighting & Sound Techs            Jalen Penson
                                                  Will Summerville