Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: '1 pound 4 ounces'

By Howard Shapiro
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. Inquirer Theater critic Howard Shapiro reviews at New Freedom Theatre.

Review: '1 pound 4 ounces'

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Khalil Munir in "1 pound 4 ounces" at New Freedom Theatre.

By Howard Shapiro

The thought, sound and rhythm of Khalil Munir’s hour-long theatrical memoir called 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 as heart beat, 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 as a preemie (thus, the title) who’s a survivor then moves into 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 special-education 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 or, or #philastage on Twitter.
1 pound 4 ounces: Through Sunday at New Freedom Theatre, 1346 N. Broad St. Tickets: $20. Information: 215-765-2793 or

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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