Afrosynthesis: Reactions in Light and Dark | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Afrosynthesis: Reactions in Light and Dark 

AFROSYNTHESIS: REACTIONS IN LIGHT AND DARK, Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre, at Victory Gardens Studio Theater. The triumph of civilization over savagery is the theme that unites these three one-acts. Sometimes we applaud its victory. In Nambi Kelley's Hoochie Mama a young man alienated from ghetto stereotypes receives solace from the ghosts of his noble ancestors, and in Shepsu Aakhu's Gabriel's Threshold a victim of gang violence turns the tables on his assailant. Sometimes we're not so certain we should applaud. In Addae Moon's Moon Women Eat Pecan Pie a practical maiden rejects a bus-station Romeo's facile flirtations.

The writing is fairly standard workshop stuff (Aakhu's exploration of the outlaw mentality takes far too long to accomplish what Sergio Leone could convey in ten words and a squint). But under the expert direction of Terry Cullers, the members of the Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre give it their all, making even the most artificial premise and phrasing sound plausible and natural (with especially fine work from Morocco Omari and Jesse "Jheydei" Stanford as two generations of bluesmen and Carla Stillwell as a slyly underplayed cafe proprietress/earth mother). Equally noteworthy is the virtuoso incidental music provided by the three-piece orchestra, the Vinyl LP Kings. --Mary Shen Barnidge

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