A.J. Baldwin’s “The Twunny Fo'” is a Must See at Know
Review By Ariel Mary Ann
On April 15th, I had the pleasure of witnessing the opening night of The Twunny Fo’, written by A. J. Baldwin and performed at The Know Theatre. Featuring a cast lead by A.J. Baldwin, Jasmine Bouldin, James Creque, and Eli Lucas – the audience is taken on a journey of exploring uncomfortable truths, tough conversations, and the power of privilege and whiteness.
At the top of show, we are introduced to Baldwin and Bouldin, portraying Tyra and Rissa, respectively. Two Black women working together at a convenience store in a changing neighborhood. Together, they are a comedic force to be reckoned with. I laughed at every quip that came out of Bouldin’s mouth—she truly stole the show with her performance.
I found myself mesmerized with the way Baldwin and Bouldin were able to take command of the stage. There was such strong energy radiating from them and they were able to play off each other so well. Eli Lucas gave a very strong performance as Shaw. I appreciated how Lucas managed to balance moments of emotional heaviness with such comedic energy opposite Bauldin, Creque, and Baldwin.
Creque’s portrayal as Kingsley was stunning. He masterfully weaved nuance into this character with the way he delivered his lines. With Baldwin’s writing and Creque’s nuanced take on Kingsley—together they showcased the pain of Black men while simultaneously bringing to light the harm they cause Black women.
Baldwin writes a powerful and deeply moving script challenging the consciousness of America. By juxtaposing Tyra’s goals of wanting more out of life with Rissa wanting to stay in their neighborhood, Baldwin expertly explores themes of classism, internalized anti-Blackness, gentrification, and the struggle of being a Black woman in today’s America.
Watching this piece, I felt challenged, seen, and heard as a Black woman—Baldwin pushes boundaries with her writing through the personification of white privilege depicted in Shaw and the relationship with his mother. She confronts what it means to be successful in America and questions the idea of defining success; What does success look like in a world built on capitalism where someone else’s gain is dependant on someone else’s loss?
Baldwin’s portrayal of Tyra was amazing. She brought this character to life with such beauty and vigor. It moved me seeing her go in between moments of Black joy and moments of pain, where she bares her soul showing the scars that America has inflicted on Black women.
Bouldin’s portrayal of Rissa was just awe-inspiring—she stole the show and brought so much joy on stage with her infectious energy. From the moment the lights came up in Act I, Bouldin uses the stage as a playground, unpacking the assumptions America has about Black women.
Candice Handy, as director, built this world in such a multidimensional way while giving a voice to Baldwin’s powerful words. Through her direction and Baldwin’s writing—they explore the humanity in each of these characters, emphasizing the importance of taking up space and challenging those in power.
Together, this cast told a powerful story with a bold message. If you appreciate theatre that challenges you, please check out The Twunny Fo’, directed by Candice Handy and written by A.J. Baldwin, running at The Know Theatre from April 15th through May 8th. Tickets can be found here.
Ariel Mary Ann is a University of Cincinnati alum, local theatre lover and performer.