By Brad Wete
Updated September 26, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT
Sherry Rubel Photography

Through the Night, an Off Broadway show written and performed by Daniel Beaty, impressively manages a feat that often eludes even big-budget Hollywood productions: accurately telling the story of several African Americans and adding enough layers to each without allowing them to careen into the abyss of the stereotypical.

In a stellar one-man performance, Beaty seamlessly transitions through multiple characters, each wrestling with his own demon. There’s Isaac, a thriving if snooty music industry executive with a Harvard master’s degree who yearns for the acceptance of his minister father while struggling to stay true to himself and his girlfriend; Dre, an ever-itchy recovering drug addict hours away from fatherhood out of wedlock; and Eric, a high-pitched 10-year-old would-be scientist mixing herbs from his father?s health food shop into his ice tea, hand hoping to find the remedy for the various ailments in his community. Wearing only a grey sweater, matching pants and sneakers, Beaty uses his voice and body to distinguish between these (and other) characters as he fluctuates between colorful monologues and conversations among his creations.

Through the Night brings both laughs and tears. But the honesty and breadth of each character elevate the play above more one-dimensional works like Tyler Perry?s Madea series while still keeping it accessible. The show depicts both poverty and affluence, slang and proper English, fried chicken and tofu. And there?s an awesome message at show?s end. Now if Beaty could only find a way to turn Through the Night into a movie…. A

(Tickets at or 1-800-982-2787)