Review: A life in tap at Freedom Theatre

Khalil Munir in his theatrical memoir, “1 pound, 4 ounces.”
Khalil Munir in his theatrical memoir, “1 pound, 4 ounces.”
Posted: May 12, 2012

The thought, sound, and rhythm of Khalil Munir’s hour-long theatrical memoir, 1 pound 4 ounces, are delivered not just in well-considered words but in the taps on his shoes.

Munir, a Philadelphian in his late 20s, uses those taps to accentuate his story. You can hear them running, or making a heartbeat, or shooting a gun. His show through Sunday at New Freedom Theatre is an evolving version of the one he takes to schools and community groups, directed here by veteran theater artist Johnnie Hobbs Jr. and beautifully complemented by the cello work and side-stage dialogue of musician Monica McIntyre.

The show is uplifting in a natural way, and carries the weight of truth: Munir’s story begins with him as a preemie (thus, the title) who’s a survivor, then moves into his childhood in a violent South Philly neighborhood. One scene, in which the young Munir visits his jailed father, is particularly poignant.

Munir’s life changes when his teachers see his potential and he ends up at Freedom Theatre for classes; it changes again when he sees the national tour of Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk and is smitten by the dancing.

His show, which Freedom Theatre is sending on tour, seems insular there, itself dancing a line between promotion and theater. But Munir is compelling, and McIntyre is a gifted cellist, and theater comes out the winner.

Contact Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, hshapiro@phillynews.com, or follow #philastage on Twitter.

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