Monday, April 27, 2009

Mosaic Theatre: In Darfur (4 reviews)

   <em>In Darfur.</em> In Darfur opened at the Mosaic Theatre on April 16.

Richard Jay Simon directs a cast that includes Patrice DeGraff Arenas, Reiss Gaspard, Shelah Marie, vaughn-Rian St. James. Pilar Uribe, Keith C. Wade, and Ricky Waugh.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
...the play, despite its speed and the obvious power of its subject matter, is nearly lifeless on the stage. Never mind In Darfur's many supporting characters, who are barely given enough to do to qualify as placeholders; even Carlos and Maryka are only about as developed as Darfur itself. Their histories, motivations, and personalities are absent from Miller's text. Waugh and Uribe seem resigned to this and grimly give their all to a script that won't give them a clue — getting riled up, getting angry, getting over it, sharing nervous laughs, arguing with editors, arguing with police, all with lots of verve and no distinction. Despite the pair's considerable skill, they simply are not credible.
Yet for all this, In Darfur is crudely effective. There are lines in this play that feel like a bayonet in the guts. Howa: "Mothers choose among their children who will go get the firewood. If they send their sons, they get killed. If they send their daughters, they get raped. So they send their daughters."
...however poorly constructed In Darfur may be, there really is a Darfur, and you are hearing something true about it.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for the Sun-Sentinel;
Arenas is luminous and affecting as the traumatized teacher who refuses to abandon her country no matter the extremities she had undergone and will continue to face. Other performances vary, bottoming out with a crucial off-stage voice on a phone that sounds as if the actress is reading her lines.
...Miller's script is as uneven as possible and director Richard Jay Simon can only ride what he is given.
If only they had overhead translations for the unintelligible and unexplained swamp of bureaucratic acronyms rattled off by the journalist and the doctor. The dump trucks of socio-political background that Miller saddles them with are so unsubtle, so hard to follow and so rote in their delivery that it deadens the impact of the show repeatedly. It's reminiscent of social studies films in which bewigged figures regurgitate pros and cons of historical events.
Besides Arenas' performance, the strongest elements are visual and aural. Steve Shapiro blends exotic music, echoes of warfare and non-representational sounds. Patrick Tennant's lighting fluidly morphs place and time of day. But top honors go to Sean McClelland's sand-blasted sun-drenched array of spindly poles lashed to tent skins and a platform evoking a map of Sudan.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Richard Jay Simon's staging, the excellent cast's impassioned acting, the design team's beautiful work -- which includes video, supertitle translations and another artfully expressive set by Sean McClelland -- are all first-rate.
The play itself has flaws, though through Mosaic's interpretation Miller accomplishes her sociopolitical mission: You leave feeling that you must do something to help Darfur's millions.
Ron Levitt reviewed for Florida Media News:
this play is much more than a tribute to fine direction, superb acting and technical excellence. It is mind-altering theatre and a call to arms to fight such social and political injustice as is occurring in this part of the Sudan. One would have to be hiding behind a venetian blind not to recognize the message it is bringing into view, asking for your recognition and involvement. You –its audience – are invited into the lives of the characters to learn of their quest for justice.
In Darfur plays at Mosaic Theatre through May 3, 2009

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