note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark
Scenic Design by Campbell Baird
Costume Design by Olivia Deborah Newhall
Lighting Design by Brian Lilienthal
Composer Shane Rettig
Dialect Coach Julie Nelson
Assistant Stage anager Peter Crewe
Stage Manager Emily F. McMullen
Bob Clyman has written a clever little mystery with a final revelation pulling the rug from under everything. It wanders through time, backing and forthing and tossing weeks away with a careless wave. He uses an investigative reporter (Kimber Riddle) and an American Ambassador (David Adkins) as bait, and a militant African social-worker (Zainab Jah) and her psychiatrist (Mark Zeisler) to set the hook. The African has repressed memories interfering with her life, so the audience is fascinated by the methods and motivations the hypontist/psychiatrist uses to first unlock those memories of political genocide, and then to allow the patient, slowly, to "remember" them when she's strong enough. This is engrossing, fascinating material well-handled by everyone on stage --- but watch out for that rug!
At the center of the plot are a string of primitive villages along an African river where American aide-money will build a big dam --- making electricity to smelt aluminum --- that will drown those very villages. Will a new president allow the innundations of farmers in a reach for industry? Will he sanction Any Means of removing the villlagers? Can possible ruthlessness of methods derail the American money needed for the dam? This all sounds like cutting-edge daily-newspaper reality, doesn't it? Well, it is --- but watch that damn rug!
The Merrimack has nurtured this carefully-machined little play, and given it an impressive Campbell Baird set and Kyle Fabel's direction that creates tense confrontations between experienced actors. The details in the play are enticingly revealed...but not maintained. See for yourself whether the final rug ruins what feels like an excellent play.