Stars: Costa Botes, Graham Butcher, Michael Gooch, Peter Gooch, Robin Griggs
Genre: Short, Music, Musical
Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 91 minutes

The moment the six-foot-tall, chain-smoking, gun-toting grandmother Madea walks on stage, it's clear that her creator, Tyler Perry, is a man who knows and appreciates his audience. Perry is the writer/director/star of the surprise hit Diary of a Mad Black Woman; like that movie, the stage play I Can Do Bad All By Myself mixes melodrama, gospel music, and freewheeling improvisational comedy--all the more loose and rambunctious because it was recorded live. In I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Madea's two granddaughters grapple with man trouble: One sister is now engaged to the other's husband, while the other resists the attentions of an ex-con with good intentions. While this angst unfolds, the heavy emotions are punctuated by rousing gospel singing and Madea's barbed, heretical wit. There's nothing sophisticated or subtle here; Perry wants to give his audience a good laugh, wring a tear from their eyes, and send them home with renewed faith in the Lord. Diary of a Mad Black Woman may have made Perry a nationally-recognized name, but watching him live on stage makes it clear he was a star long before the movie came out--the rapport he has with the crowd is palpable. --Bret Fetzer

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