Theatre Mirror Reviews - "In The Continuum"

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note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Larry Stark

"In The Continuum"

by Daniel Gurira & Nokkole Salter
Directed by Akiba Abaka

Dialect Coach & Consultant U-Meleni Mhlaba
Lighting Design by Michael Clark Wonson
Costume Design by Akiba Abaka
Costume Assistant Sue Jemeison
Sound Design by Fatima Manning
Projection Design by Robert Edmond Gregor
Dance of The Ancestors by De Ama Battle, Adrienne Hawkins
Stage Manager Alyssa McKeon

Nia &c.............Ramona Lisa Alexander
Abigail &c.............Lindsey McWhorter

"Black women currently represent the highest rate of new infection (by HIV/AIDS) both in the U.S. and Africa.(This play) is a representation of the humanity behind the statistics."
===The Playwrights, Nikkola Salter & Danai Gurira

"In The Continuum" is two one-woman shows that alternate and reverberate against one another. Each woman plays a collection of related characters, and occasionally their voices join since the same words and the same experiences impinge upon them --- though one lives in Zimbabwe and the other in Los Angeles. It is odd that Abigail (Lindsey McWhorter) is a married news-broadcaster in Africa, and Nia (Ramona Lisa Alexander) and uppity teen-ager on the Left Coast of America. But they are identical in that each is pregnant by a man who gave her not only a child, but gave both mother and child a possibly deadly disease. It is a credit to both actresses, and to the women they play, that though devastated by their predicament, each in their unique ways deal with reality trying to maintain a personal sense of dignity.

All four sides of the BCA's Black Box performance space have two rows of seats, with aisles wide enough for the play's characters to invade the audience's privacy --- though never acknowledging their existence. Otherwise, the square central space is a bare black canvas across which the women make and re-make their worlds. Each often holds conversation with friends or relatives that they make invisibly existent by reactions and retorts. It is sometimes unclear which characters the actresses have become --- but in every case, their being and reactions are harrowingly real.

Robert Edmond Gregor added to the play softly subtle projections of dancers, words, and a circle. And U-Meleni Mhlaba as consultant and dialect Coach saw to it that, on either continent, people sounded and acted real. McWhorter in particular, speaking English, maintains rhythms that keep her Abigail African. Choreographers De Ama Battle and Adrienne Hawkins contributed a "Dance of the Amcestors" and a physical fluidity of action.
But, of course, the invisible fingerprints of Akiba Abaka, Artistic director of Up You Might Race, are everywhere. This is, or certainly will be, an award-deserving experience.

"In The Continuum" (26 June - 13 July)
Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 933-8600

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide