BWW Review: FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE / WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF at KC Rep
In truth, it is no surprise that Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf is experiencing something of a revival at the moment. We live in times where the forward progress of minority voices taking their place in the world has been stalled out, or even reversed. As the world staggers to the right, the voices left behind have become louder, more pointed, refusing to be ignored. It is at this point that art is truly at its most vital: giving voice to the voiceless, and amplifying the subdued.
The KC Rep chose Ms Shange's "choreopoem" (her word for a theatrical combination of poetry, dance, and song) for their 2019-20 season this year, a choice which speaks volumes. The seven women (Sharyon A. Culberson, Chioma Anyanwu, Celeste M Cooper, Ashe Jaafaru, Amber McKinnon, Meredith Noël, and Teonna Wesley), each arrayed in a different color, each with her own history and story to tell, take us through many poems of the work.
The poems vary, from the nostalgia of "Toussaint" to the frustrated shout of "I used to live in the world", the laughing-through-shared-adversity recital of insincere mens' apologies in "Sorry". And in the end, the harrowing "A Night With Beau Willie Brown", a nightmare scenario about men and power. And through it all the women stop to comfort each other, reinforce each other, give one another the strength they can.
Special mention must be given to Sheryl Liu's scenic design and Akin Ritchie's lighting, which created a stark and visually striking set against the powerful performances of the evening. Overall, the production was up to the usual Rep standards, with excellent production and performances all around. It should be noted that not all of the poems are presented ("Positive" being most conspicuously absent), but overall it is an excellent production, and worthy of the late Ms Shange's words.