A lot of people wanted Malcolm X dead. It wasn’t just the K.K.K. and the alphabet soup of law enforcement agencies (the F.B.I., C.I.A., and N.Y.P.D.). By the last year of his life, it was also his former brothers in the Nation of Islam, the black nationalist movement he left in 1964 in order to forge a broader coalition of civil rights activists. A year later, he was assassinated.
Marcus Gardley exhumes the corpse of intrigue in X: or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation, laying the facts out with the precision of a forensic scientist and the verve of an old man telling ghost stories around a fire. It’s an unexpected and fascinating combination, and it really works in this production from the Acting Company, now showing at Theatre at St. Clement’s following an acclaimed New York run and tour last year. If you missed it the first time around, don’t let it slip away again. This is an opportunity to better understand a man who not only reflects America’s pain, but its possibilities.