Off Broadway Reviews
Good Grief, performed without an intermission, " takes place between 1992 and 2005. Also the beginning of time. And the future." The elliptical nature of Anyanwu's structure comes into focus as Nkechi, who's also called N, has returned to Buck's County where she was raised in order to take a break from medical school as she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. There she reconnects with her childhood friend and crush, Mathew Jason George (a superb Ian Quinlan) referred to as MJ, and they quickly fall into a romantic relationship that is never defined. MJ is the ultimate slacker and Quinlan, who is distractingly beautiful, underplays his intoxicating charms perfectly. But tragedy strikes MJ and the remainder of Good Grief finds Nkechi trying to make sense of what is, what was and what might have been.
Anyone who's experienced loss will recognize Nkechi's journey as well as the fascinating manner in which Anyanwu structures her search for answers. Nkechi's father and mother, Papa and NeNe (the excellent Oberonk K.A. Adjepong and Patrice Johnson Chevannes) are concerned about her depression and want her to return to school. Her brother, Bro (a charismatic Nnamdi Asomugha), who's eschewed their suburban education and upbringing in favor of a more street embodiment, is sympathetic to Nkechi but they're on different paths. Nkechi dabbles with JD (a terrific Hunter Parrish), a golden boy she tutored in high school but she's unable to move forward with him until she resolves her feelings about MJ. She visits MJ's mother (the lovely Lisa Ramirez) hoping for closure but she only finds more questions.
Beautifully directed by Awoye Timpo, who also directed The Homecoming Queen, ultimately Good Grief is a memory play about questioning. Making sense of our mortality is one of life's inevitable riddles and Anyanwu's lyrical and heartfelt attempt to dramatize one young woman's search for an answer is as poignant as it is moving.