Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #62

Contents

A MUST SEE PLAY AT THE BCA

BARACK OBAMA GOES HOLLYWOOD?

ALBEE’S SEASCAPE IS A SPLENDID PRODUCTION

STAR WARS PRINCESS TELLS ALL AT HUNTINGTON

THE DUCHESS – A FILM REVIEW

ERNIE DAVIS’ STORY IS TOLD IN EXPRESS

UP-COMING EVENTS


A MUST SEE PLAY AT THE BCA

(by Kay Bourne)

(Ramona as Nia)

957a9dc630085090e363a679ecbfa18d.124.70 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #62A no-holds-barred production of “IN THE CONTINUUM” gives an insider’s view of the plight of two Black, HIV-positive women, infected by the men who are their sexual partners. The women live continents apart: one in Zimbabwe, the other in South Central Los Angeles. Their story is “The Color Purple” of the new millennium, but told with a lot more humor. Performed by two actors playing all the roles, this high velocity account may be 90-minutes in length, but the time in the theater whirls by. You come to care deeply about Nia and Abigail as the lives they’d thought they’d be living disintegrate.

The two women are at opposite ends of the economic continuum, as well as continents away; however, the people they turn to for guidance and support equally disappoint. In the end, it seems they will need the help of the very same male who infected them to pay for the medical ordeal of being HIV-positive.

AKIBA ABAKA is a virtual Muhammad Ali in her powerful direction. She melds scenes from Zimbabwe so they float effortlessly into scenes taking place in L.A. She stages each of these moments to emit a little sting that reveals character flaws or societal cruelties manifested in communities where HIV-AIDS is regarded as shameful.

This show is UP YOU MIGHTY RACE‘s (UYMR) first entry as a resident company at the Boston Center for the Arts. Its artistic merit more than explains why the company was invited to put on their productions regularly at the South End theater complex. Abaka is also the artistic director of UYMR.

The artistry of the direction is matched by performances from an extraordinary duo of actors who shift seamlessly in and out of playing all of the people in the story. It’s hard to believe your eyes that Nia’s mother was a moment ago Nia herself, portrayed by RAMONA LISA ALEXANDER; or that the witch doctor, oops excuse me, the “traditional healer,” was a moment ago Abigail, played by LINDSEY McWHORTER.

We first see 19-year-old Nia in the bathroom of a nightclub dressed to the nines in garb she filched from Nordstrom’s where she was a clerk until she was fired for shop lifting. She is lecturing her friend Trina on the ABC’s of “getting over,” until she has a bout of vomiting. The product of foster homes and, lately, a sort of homeless shelter, she’s hitched her star to a young man who’s a high school basketball star with prospects for a college scholarship and ultimately the pro teams. She’s carrying his baby. The night out crashes to an inauspicious end when there’s gun fire, and Trina slips on some broken glass. The two young women are seen at a clinic where Nia learns she is HIV-positive.

Where Nia is brash, Abigail, a news reader at the government broadcast service in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, is genuinely self confident. Smart and ambitious, she desires all that being upwardly mobile can bring her and her family (a husband, a small son, and a baby on the way, a boy she hopes for, for after all, “What am I going to do in this world with a girl?”) In a subsequent scene a harried nurse casually gives Abigail the news that she has tested HIV-positive.

Playwrights DANAI GURIRA and NIKKOLE SALTER have written characters who win our interest, even touch our hearts; then are intentionally tossed like so much jetsam into an unruly sea of bad advice and misery. However abstract and imaginative much of the writing is, “IN THE CONTINUUM” should be taken as old fashioned social realism with the message that society needs to do better for the ‘Nia’s and Abilgail’s’ in our midst.

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