A Blast from the Past: Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre Brings Audiences Back to 2008 with ‘OBAMA-OLOGY’


Illustration by Danny O'Grady

David Guiden expertly plays Warren in “OBAMA-OLOGY.”

Evelyn Mulchrone, Reporter

Tucked away in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center is a cozy little stage that Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre calls home. The company’s summer 2023 season premiere, “OBAMA-OLOGY,” written by Aurin Squire and directed by Bria Walker, brings audiences back in time to 2008, just before Barack Obama was elected president. 

The piece follows Warren, played expertly by David Guiden, a young Black man who was recently hired by the Obama campaign and sent to knock on doors in East Cleveland, Ohio. While overly excited  — and perhaps a little naive — Warren faces some resistance from the rough-around-the-edges residents. As his relationships with those around him develop, Warren discovers the difficulties of democracy first-hand, while also navigating his own identity as a gay Black man. 

The production’s simple set, designed by Technical Director Evan Sposato and Artistic Director Tim Rhoze, and blue-hued lighting, designed by Michael Rourke, both contribute to the contrast between Warren’s idealist interpretation of democracy and the difficult realities of life in East Cleveland. 

Standout Tuesdai B. Perry plays notable characters Cece and Caits. Cece, an illiterate single mother, becomes close friends with Warren after she volunteers for the Obama campaign. Warren wants to help enroll Cece in some education courses, causing conflict as Cece negotiates with her shame and her desire to make her children proud. 

Another volunteer, Caits, travels to East Cleveland to support the campaign. While Warren and Caits are driving around late at night, they are pulled over by a white police officer. Perhaps the most poignant of the show’s moments is when Caits reveals to Warren that her brother was killed by a police officer at a traffic stop. Both of Perry’s characters highlight the daily struggles of Black Americans against the harsh political backdrop of the impending election.

The dynamic cast, also featuring Chris Jensen and Em Demaio, contributes to the play’s success. The ensemble’s use of physicality in conveying different characters is spot on, leaving the audience with a clear understanding of each unique character. The simplicity of the piece and the trust in Squire’s writing convinces theatergoers to hold onto hope, even in 2023. 

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Twitter: @MulchroneEvelyn

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