Review: Daniel Beaty’s “Emergency”

By Tessa Roy ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Daniel Beaty. Photo Credit: Michael Lamont.
Daniel Beaty. Photo Credit: Michael Lamont.

One man bands or shows aren’t typically very entertaining. They’re often just random people trying to display multiple talents at once, but just end up looking disorganized and silly. But that isn’t the case with Daniel Beaty’s Emergency, a show consisting of a single performer, Beaty, who combines singing, dancing, slam poetry, and voice imitations for different characters in an ever-changing story. Yes, it sounds extremely confusing. But it’s not. It’s a unique and enlightening experience.

First thing’s first: Daniel Beaty is downright funny. It’s difficult to tell what his real voice actually sounds like since he changes it so often to match his various characters. And yes, he plays all of these characters on his own and pulls it off. His vocal transformations from deep-voiced old men to gruff police officers to nasally young girls immediately evokes laughter from the audience and keeps it going throughout the performance.

One initially worrisome factor is race being the basis of most of Beaty’s humor. Racial jokes are often taken seriously and can make audience members angry. However, Beaty avoids this as he adds a strong message behind each potentially offensive joke. For instance, one of Beaty’s characters is pulled over by a police officer with the obvious reason of his being black and therefore an assumed drug dealer. The character’s nervous reaction is humorous, but the mood quickly switches as he launches into a passionate rant about racial profiling. “You don’t know me!,” Beaty exclaims as he fumes about his being detained for doing nothing wrong. The audience is caught up in a bout of sympathy and anger, and maybe even identifying with the character. But then Beaty brings back some comic relief, giving just enough time for the important message to sink in.

Emergency is easily memorable, as it can’t be seen performed by anyone but Daniel Beaty. It’s definitely a must-see, so be sure to get your tickets and head to the Cutler Majestic Theater for one of the last two performances!

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