It's hard to pick a favorite bit from Echo Brown's terrific debut of "Black Virgins are Not For Hipsters." Maybe it's Officer Wayles, complete with the perfect body language of the self-entitled New York cop; maybe her Valley-Girl roommate Amy; or maybe her frustrated mother -- no, wait: the dance sequences. Preluded by Brown's comment that "Dancing is the only place where racial stereotyping is AOK!," she gets us on our feet while tossing off some painfully funny lines. If you've ever felt self-conscious while dancing, it just got worse.
Then the humor turns serious before it gets funny again -- and that part is amazing too. Brown can do voices, and inflections, and faces, but she's a lot more than a comedian -- she is a story teller of the first order. "Black Virgins are Not For Hipsters" is her coming-of-age-at-23-in-New York story, but it is also a universal tale of learning to deal with our own insecurities. Her hair, her face, her position in life, as well as the difficulties faced by young black men and women in a color-conscious country, all are grounds for biting reflection as well as raucous humor.
We may quibble with the ending, but it has a lot to do with not having a backstage. It would help a lot if she could leave the room and come back for her bows -- you'll see what we mean. Echo Brown is the real thing -- don't miss her.
RATING: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Divison awards "Black Virgins are Not for Hipsters" Four Stars, an impressively high rating for a first-time solo show. She has you on her side from her opening lines, as she both entertains and surprises. You'll still like Beyoncé, but Echo Brown shows you nothing is as simple as it seems.
Echo Brown: "Black Virgins are Not For Hipsters"
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Thursdays and Saturdays EXTENDED through Sept 12