Freeman Aquila is a young black man, son of an industrious foundry worker and a practical nurse, who is trapped not so much by the color of his skin as by the complexities of his nature. Spurning the conventional routes to possible "success" in a white-dominated world, Freeman pursues an independent, free-wheeling course through attempts at politics and real estate schemes—only to be frustrated at every turn. The irony is that Freeman's disturbing ambitions are curbed not only by the local establishment, but also by his own family and friends; his weary, middle-class parents, who are fearful of jeopardizing all that their years of resigned acceptance have brought them; his boyhood friend, Rex, now a successful doctor, who has gained power and wealth through "practical" compromise; and his pregnant wife, Osa Lee, who yearns only for security and a home of her own. Inevitably Freeman's dogged persistence brings on a crisis which gives tragic dimension to his plight. He is clearly in the right, yet he must also lose—as, by powerful implication, does society as a whole.
Presented with great success by The American Place Theatre, this perceptive, moving and ultimately shattering play offers arresting new insights into the Black Experience in America. "This is a fascinating play, and confirms that Mr. Dean is a black playwright of far more than usual interest. He has fire." —NY Times. "…honest and compassionate…unmistakably the work of a genuine playwright…" —NY Daily News. "Dean, in his compassion, has captured the brittle soul of a man and conveyed a kind of suffering that is undeniable and illuminating." —Village Voice.