note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey
Stoneham Theatre is premiering Sonja Lindenís exquisite two character play about the transforming power of art called I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA(through April 22nd). As the title would indicate, a young refugee presents herself to a British writer in hopes that he will help her publish a memoir about the l994 Hutu genocide of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda (while the world stood by and did nothing).
He is a poet who hasnít written creatively in some time but he has offered to help out at a refugee center. Heís only approached his volunteering in the abstract until he meets Juliette. As the one survivor from her large family, alone in a strange country, she is naturally distressed---depressed---and wants desperately to publish the facts to the world.
What makes Lindenís play so compelling is her artistry in telling the story. We observe the overwhelmed poet trying to engage the frightened young woman .We see the young woman politely respond to his awkward kindness. Then weíre privy to eachís frustrated, even hilarious, interior monologues. Lindenís touching, and yes-funny play reminded me of EDUCATING RITA in that the student teaches the professor as much as he educates her.
Own Doyle gives a finely nuanced performance as the middle aged, world-weary writer whoís lost his muse. Dorcas Evelene Davis lights up the stage as the impatient Juliette, deeply wounded but still able to see the goodness in people. Weylin Symes directs as if it were a ballet or a symphony. The moving of desks is even choreographed in keeping with the rhythm of the story. Each actor seems to move in awareness of the other so that the story flows toward the triumphant healing conclusion. Whatís even more remarkable, is that the playwright, herself, worked in a refugee center and helped survivors free themselves from pain by writing their stories, learning first hand that the pen is in fact mightier than the sword.