Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Teenaged Oya sprints through the projects like a blur. State wants to give her a scholarship. But her mother is ill. So Oya stays home. Mother dies. No scholarship forth-comes. Of the three men in Oya's life, she chooses the bland businessman over the fiery soldier or the childlike mystic. She has no children. The culture blames her. Tragedy awaits.

Sad to say, the bare bones of the story sound familiar and predictable. What playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney does with it, however, is not. Like the Corridos of Mexico and Latin America, the playwright elevates Oya's plight to the status of myth. He does it, in part, by grafting three tales into one.

There's the actual Oya. She lives in a small town in Louisiana, and her scholarship could have been at L.S.U.

There's the Oya of Yoruban folk tales and Cuban Santeria, whose legend - and the legendary spell of Shango, her warrior-lover - appears to engulf the actual Oya.

The playwright also refers to Federico Garcia Lorca's Yerma, an Andalusian "tragic poem" about an allegedly barren woman who struggles to rise above her situation (though it's her marriage that's sterile).

So Oya's a triple-persona. That's fancy in theory, but even more impressive in fact at UCSD, where director Gregory Wallace deftly layers dimensions, even worlds, onto an almost bare stage.

Most striking: the characters read their stage directions. Chaz Hodges' excellent Oya, for example, says "Oya laughs." Then laughs. So the speeches are both immediate and distant, as if being acted and re-enacted at the same time (it's a neat turn on Brecht's anti-theatricality: the stage directions pull us away - were just watching a play, Brecht insists - but the speeches yank us back into emotional involvement).

Also striking: once a character announces a reaction beforehand, - "Oya laughs," say - the question becomes: of all possible kinds of laughter, which will Hodges choose - wry, besmirched, bemused, or a full-throated hardy-har? In a split-second we're inside the mind of the character and the creative imagination of the actor.

Hodges' (and the other performer's) choices become double-edged: at once apt for Oya at that moment, and yet unpredictable from the house seats. Oya is a chronically thwarted human being. Hodges walks her down a harrowing path to the "red and brown water" foreseen in a dream of her demise.

The author saysw his "fast and loose" play takes place in "the distant present." It echoes Greek tragedy by having a chorus comment on the story. They break into songs, robust rhythms, even a rap number, led by William Hodgson, as polished as the real deal.

From a cast with no weak links, standouts include: Tesiana Elie's life-embracing Aunt Elegua; Ngozi Anyanwu's bruja-like Mama Moja; and Maurice Williams' elusive Elegba.

Christopher Scott Murillo's set and Mary Rochon's costumes mirror the play's layerings. The set looks real - five brick wall loom over a concrete platform - and surreal, since at least two of the walls tilt at leaning-tower angles, and a door opens to thin air. The costumes range from Africa to the Caribbean to Louisiana. To underline the sense of a "distant present," one costume will peel off to reveal another.


Mandell Weiss Forum, UCSD, playing through December 1.

More like this:

Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close