BWW Review: BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE at Black Theatre Troupe Explores the Lines of Spirituality and Mental Health Through the Eyes of a Controversial Man
Tackling roles that involve the depiction of historical figures can be a mountainous task. For most, it takes research, time, and great direction to execute. The same could be said about mental health. They are enthralling when mastered, captivating audiences as the drama unfolds. The flawless cast and crew of Breakfast with Mugabe at Black Theatre Troupe is a prime example of drama done right, thanks to great direction and a cast with a commitment to their craft.
Breakfast with Mugabe follows Zimbabwe's past President, Robert Mugabe and his sessions with Psychiatrist, Andrew Peric. The unlikely duo regularly meets in hopes to face the spirit causing his anxiety. However, is the not so welcomed apparition a representation of past guilt and resentments, or a call to arms to the country he has fathered. Director Louis Farber did a fantastic job bringing together a powerhouse of a cast with the ability to bring to life a troubled man's self-quarrels and those around him that he affected.
Mike Taylor's depiction of Robert Mugabe is sensational. More than through his lines, his actions read aloud as he battles the demons he can only see. His chemistry with Duane Daniels as Andrew Peric is magnetic. These dynamic two reel you in with each psychological moment they share on stage. As Peric continues to peer into the mind of his patient, you can see the wheels turning in Mugabe's, plotting an endgame the audience does not see coming. Duane plays Peric as the poised and firm professional, focused on his task to relieve what afflicts any patient, no matter their status. Due to Duane's magnificent character development and the fantastic directing prowess of Louis Farber, what could easily be initially seen as a "White Knight" persona in Peric is thwarted early in the play through the apparent genuineness and care he takes with Mugabe.
Ryan L. Jenkins is remarkable as Grace Mugabe, depicting a sense of regality in her character. Her no compromise and power-driven approach maintain the barrier of class status between Grace and Peric, only swaying when the benefit befits herself. Jordan-Kerry Mitchell plays Gabriel, an unwavering intelligence agent, with loyalty only to his president. Jordan plays up an irritated Gabriel toward Duane's Peric, punctuating an impression of disdain to the barely welcome Psychologist. The fight choreography between Jordan and Duane was excitingly smooth. Emotionally, the scene came off as a final release, as a distraught Peric recklessly explodes after losing everything he loves due to the president, only to be demolished by an overpowering Gabriel.
Brunella Provvidente's Scenic Design paired with Bret G. Reese's Lighting was simply perfection, flawlessly expressing mood and drawing the emotions of the actors and the audience alike. Natalie Andrews is the unsung hero as Dialect Coach, as from the audience their accents were remarkable enough to go unnoticed. Their united natural sound made the show that much more immersive.
This show is truly remarkable, taking on the controversial life of a man whose impact has yet to be fully felt. With his Presidency only having ended in 2017 and his more recent passing, the reverberations of his impact haven't had yet the chance to settle. Breakfast with Mugabe is in a similar state, having the ability to grow as interest in his story does. If you missed this show, you missed a remarkable performance. Do not allow yourself to miss the shows that are still to come at Black Theatre troupe.
Find more information on BTT's upcoming season at http://new-wp.blacktheatretroupe.org/
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