Is it “absence makes the heart grow fonder” or “out of sight, out of mind”? That is the principle question of Tyler’s Perry’s newest stage creation, I Don’t Want To Do Wrong. As usual Tyler Perry continues to demonstrate his mastery of wearing multiple hats, acting as writer, director, and producer. It only requires watching this play a quarter of the way through before realizing that in the world of stage work, Perry has no equal. Balancing comedy, spirituality, and an important message, there’s no wonder why Tyler Perry has become the king of playwrights.
I Don’t Want To Do Wrong is written in Perry’s traditional format for an ensemble play, parallel stories running simultaneously. The main story follows Yolanda (Kislyck Halsey), a medical student and young wife of Jamal (Tony Hightower), a soldier away fighting in Iraq. Due to financial strains, Yolanda is forced to move back in with her mother and father, Rev. Wallace and Hattie (Brilliantly portrayed by House of Payne alum Palmer Williams Jr. and Madea’s Christmas’s Patrice Lovely). In her husband’s absence, Yolanda succumbs to desire and begins having an affair with fellow student Marty (Andre Pitre). Things spiral out of Yolanda’s control when Marty falls in love with her and wants her to leave her husband for him. That coupled with Jamal’s sudden and unannounced return from Iraq spells disaster for Yolanda, who learns the hard way that there’s a cost when you try to have your cake and eat it too.
The secondary story follows the Reverend and Hattie; for years their marriage has been descending to the point that the two cannot stand to be in the same room with one another. However for financial reasons as well as for the good of their congregation, the two are forced to remain under the same roof and project the image of a happy could but behind closed doors, the gloves come off.
I have to be honest; this is the first Tyler Perry play that I have seen that did not feature him starring as Madea. I just assumed that without her, the play would be missing some much-needed flair. I’m happy to see that I was wrong, as there is just as much gun toting and side-splitting jokes within the play as there would have been if she had been in it. I Don’t Want To Do Wrong is just as uplifting as any of Perry’s other work, further proving that he has not lost a step while expanding his portfolio.
It starts off energetic and keeps the same level of energy throughout the entire play. Once again, Perry takes a real-life issue and perfectly recreates it on stage. The message behind I Don’t Want To Do Wrong is very clear, the importance of fidelity and trust in a relationship. The message reached me with minimal effort, and I’m sure that with Perry’s top of line singing cast and right-on-the-money comedic timing, it will do the same for anyone else.