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Review: IS GOD IS at Canadian Stage

This harrowing tale of revenge is playing at the Berkeley Street Theatre until May 22 2022.

Review: IS GOD IS at Canadian Stage Canadian Stage with Obsidian Theatre Company and Necessary Angel Theatre Company present Is God Is playing at the Berkeley Street Theatre until May 22, 2022, written by Aleshea Harris and directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu. This explosive story of revenge and murder is an eye-opening and revealing exploration of Black women and the societal expectations placed upon them.

As infants, twins Racine (Oyin Oladejo) and Anaia (Vanessa Sears) were caught in a house fire set by their father. The fire was intended for their mother. Eighteen years later, the teens live on their own brutally affected by the scars both mental and physical - they exist across Racine's back but Anaia survived the worst and the scars take up most of her face and chest. As for their mother, the twins assumed she had died until news reach them that their mother is in a hospital and finally asking for them. When they make their way to the hospital, they see their mother (Alison Sealy-Smith) is on her death bed, having endured burns to most of her body. Mama has but one wish, "make your daddy dead", which sends the twins on a journey they can never turn back from.

Needless to say, this is not a play for the faint of heart. The story is raw, biting, and over all uncomfortable. Oladejo and Sears give incredible performances worth recognition. Racine's rage and desire for revenge is palpable and so is Anaia's reservations and hesitancy despite her injuries affecting her life the most.

And yet, on the other side of the rage is humor and lightheartedness. Their father (Tyrone Benskin) has moved on with his life since the tragedy, with a new wife Angie (Sabryn Rock) and another set of twin boys Scotch (Savion Roach) and Riley (Micah Woods). As we peer into their average suburban life, we see a mom at her wits' end with her deadbeat husband and teenage sons who won't lift a finger to help bring groceries into the house along with two oblivious boys lost in their own world. The interactions between mom and sons are a much needed reprieve from the trauma of the past and the horror that has yet to come.

What director Otu along with fight director Jennifer Dzialoszynski have managed to achieve here with the play's violent conclusion is something akin to watching a Quentin Tarantino film on stage. Despite the lack of physical contact, the fight feels visceral. Watching the audience, people shifted in their seats uncomfortably or looked away; the scene clearly having a physical affect.

Is God Is concludes its run this weekend which makes this production an exciting addition to your long weekend plans if you are in search for a return to live theatre.

Photo credit: Dahlia Katz

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