BWW Reviews: THE ADVENTURES OF A BLACK GIRL IN SEARCH OF GOD at Centaur Theatre
The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God is the most recent oeuvre from Canadian playwright Djanet Sears.
Put on in collaboration with the Black Theatre Workshop and the Centaur Theatre, the production was directed by Sears herself.
While the story addresses sombre themes of loss and grief, the play succeeds in creating a counterbalance of more lighthearted elements.
It tells the story of a woman, played by the effortlessly graceful and evocative Lucinda Davis, who struggles to move past the death of her child.
The cast features a large ensemble who help to move the action along with frequent interludes of original music and African-inspired dance. The music was strikingly beautiful in its simplicity. It was composed by Alejandra Nunez, with Sears listed as a co-composer. The vocalists on display were immensely talented, channeling a deep, soulful, almost-gospel tone throughout.
While the title would suggest an overtly religious play, the characters are free to move fluidly in the spaces between faith, doubt and beyond. While Davis' character is caught in a cycle of grief and guilt over the loss of her daughter, her father Abendigo is the proverbial ray of sunshine.
As members of the black minority living in a small community in Ontario, Michael and his band of senior citizens embark on a series of missions to "liberate" racially offensive objects from the lawns of their neighbours. While practically relegated to a subplot, the antics of the group are a bright spot of humour in the drawn out discussion of religion, heartbreak and death.
Rounding out the central cast is Quincy Armorer, artistic director of the Black Theatre Workshop, who plays the lead's love interest and main religious figure.
The play is both emotionally raw and extremely polished. Sears' text is thoughtful and touching, which goes nicely with the paired down, simplistic set and costume design. Visually-it's highly realistic-which contrasts dramatically with the constant, swaying presence of the chorus.
As outlined in Sears' Director's Note, many of the events described in the play are based on true stories, many of which came from the playwright's own life. This makes for a fully fleshed out narrative that captures the highs and lows of human struggle and perseverance, while highlighting so many of the little moments that make life worth living.
Family, community and faith make up the heart of this play, brought to life in vivid detail by an impressive cast and creative team at the Centaur.
The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God runs at the Centaur until Oct. 18. http://www.centaurtheatre.com/adventures.html