Taking Her Shot: Candrice Jones Sinks a 3 With Her NY Debut “Flex”
By Adam Kamp
Bursting with excitement and character, Candrice Jones’ NY theater debut, “Flex,” comes with a lot to show and even more to say. Making its journey from Arkansas’ TheatreSquared to Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit to Lincoln Center, this production follows the 1998 Plainnole High School women’s basketball team as they focus on pursing the big leagues. They are on a similar journey while facing cycles of trauma that have plagued Black communities in America. Themes of faith, chosen community and trauma are widely present and sometimes clash with the comedic presentation of many scenes.
Starra, Sydney, April, Donna and Cherise (played by Erica Matthews, Tamera Tomakili, Brittany Bellizeare, Renita Lewis and Ciara Monique, respectively) had chemistry like a true team, playing off of each other’s timing and drawing laughter out fluidly, while also running real drills and making shots without hesitation. While I was drawn in by their charm, it was sometimes difficult to engage actively during moments with more gravitas, especially due to a glut of hand-holding exposition. April and Starra, in particular, aren’t provided enough room and depth to express themselves through their lines because they must address the audience directly and provide context that could be easily inferred.
Flex wants more than anything to blend things together and it succeeds dramatically when doing so with faith and basketball or when juxtaposing pregnancy and predatory army recruitment. However, an abundance of hopes and ideas weigh it down, making it a slightly bloated production at almost 2.5 hours. Nonetheless, its peaks outshine its valleys and the music will get you going before you realize that the intermission has come around. Flex is a fun and accessible show for anyone looking for something new off-Broadway. Opening night was July 20 and its run is slated to end on August 20, 2023.
Adam Kamp is a rising Senior at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Born and raised in Manhattan, Adam grew up around theatre and the performing arts of the city. He now studies Film and Media Studies while pursuing his goal of being a theatre critic.