The M Ensemble's Triumphant Tribute to Sojourner Truth

Yes, it's transcendent too.

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A Woman Called Truth: Written by Sandra Fenichel Asher. Directed by Jerry Maple. Through March 1. The M Ensemble, 12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami; 305-895-8945, themensemble.com

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As the production's lone young black male, Curtis Allen has to do an inordinate amount of heavy lifting. At various moments, he is Sojourner's young brother, her lover, and her son — and he plays the last role both as a six-year-old and as an adolescent. Yet Allen is a big, hunky man — looking at him, you'd never think he could effectively impersonate a child. To do it, he adopts a careful body language so meticulously stylized it's almost a kind of modern dance. But it's organic too: Within moments, you forget the artifice of the performance, and appreciation of Allen's craft gives way to deeper reactions somewhere in the gut. Watch him cowering in a courtroom, when, as Sojourner's six-year-old son, he is torn between recognizing his mother and obeying his master's command to keep silent. You can see Allen's grown-up biceps and massive pecs, but they don't register at all; on every level, you respond to the sight as though he were a child. Like A Woman Called Truth itself, it is utterly remarkable — and powerful enough to render the visage's incongruities meaningless.

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