“Ain’t No Mo’” is in-your-face brilliance about the Black experience in America

By Lucy Komisar

“Ain’t No Mo’” by Jordan E. Cooper is a fantastical surreal in-your-face satirical pastiche of the American black experience. It targets blacks (read the black bourgeoisie) as well as whites. You won’t find anything as adventurous on or off Broadway. Which makes it sad it has posted a closing notice for Sunday, Dec. 18th, just two weeks after its opening. So here is what you will see if you go and what you will miss if you don’t.

Marchant Davis as the minister and cast, photo Joan Marcus.

The opening is a red-robbed minister officiating at the funeral of Brother Right to Complain. He was murdered by the election of the first Negro president which “marked the death of our suffering.” “Aint no mo’ riots. Aint no mo’ cops. No mo’ marches to be led. …Every colored person in the theater turn to your neighbor and say the president is my [N word].” You get the idea. The over-the-top mood is directed by Stevie Walker-Webb.

Meanwhile, which seems odd in the context, somebody, the government?, has offered free tickets to black people to fly them to Africa on an African-American Airlines flight at gate 1619. That of course is the date the first slaves were brought to America.

Jordan E. Cooper as Peaches, photo Joan Marcus.

Peaches (the multi-talented Cooper) informs us the plane will land in Senegal and then transfer passengers to countries of their ancestral origins.

Why would they go? At an abortion clinic, a woman is arguing with a man who appears to be the father. She doesn’t want a baby born to be killed. “Kids are in jail or the cemetery.” When she pulls off his jacket, his white shirt is spotted red. He is dead.

The Real Baby Mamas of the South Side is a TV show which includes a white woman pretending to be transracial. Rachel, with cornrows, calls herself Rachonda. All the women wear too tight sequined outfits. It’s all scripted as we know these shows are. Does this target the women who watch such drivel?

Edna Jacquet, Shannon Matesky, Marchant Davis, Crystal Lucas-Perry, Ebony Marshall-Oliver in the Mamas shows, photo Joan Marcus.

Quite different is an upper-class dinner, with the patriarch looking down from the wall and the women talking with strong emotion of the black identity struggle. My favorite piece.

Identity? One explains, “Like daddy said, you’re green ($$) or not. That’s what gets you respect.”

Suddenly smashing out of the of basement in a move that reminded me of Superman, or Superwoman, is a women in rags (the terrific Crystal Lucas-Perry), their servant, who screams curses at them for banishing her there. “I am free!” she shouts.

They scream, “Back to the basement.” Then they start talking like her and try to kill her, refusing to accept that she is one of them.

Crystal Lucas-Perry as freed prisoner and Ebony Marshall-Oliver as prison officer, photo Joan Marcus.

The most moving piece is about prisoners who are being released. One (Lucas-Perry) has been in for 15 years. When she gets a bag with the belongings she had on entry, she argues that is not what she had. And she wants it back. She means her life.

When the flight is about to take off, there’s a big surprise. It has to do with the lit-up baggage carrier where people were told to deposit their things to take on the trip. Their life experiences.

The play is flawed, mostly because some sketches go on too long, but there is an underlying brilliance.

Ain’t No Mo’.” Written by Jordan E. Cooper, directed by Stevie Walker‑Webb. Belasco Theater 111 West 44 St, NYC. 212-239-6200. Opened Dec 1, 2022, closes Dec 23, 2022. Review on NY Theatre Wire.

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