EXOSKELETAL BLUES, Ma’at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre, at Victory Gardens Theater. These three one-acts are linked by the image of an exoskeleton that no longer protects and must be discarded: in each a child confronts an unwelcome legacy from an unreachable parent. Terry Cullers’s staging makes familiar outcomes seem fresh–though they could come faster, and Slight Return’s strong score sometimes overwhelms the action.
In Third Day Larry Nance contrasts a pulpit pounder with his gay son, who visits his grave. Abdul Malik conveys the survivor’s complex mix of remorse and vengefulness, his quiet despair a fine contrast to Antoine P. Brunson’s fire-breathing, implacable father. Carla in Search of Her Silky Underthings is equally personal. In this forthright confession, actress Carla Stillwell details her feelings about thinner performers, a dying mother, and her memories of sexual harassment. Exploring acres of emotional territory as she empties a martini shaker, Stillwell tries to cover too much ground. Not everything here is equally urgent.
Most moving is The Missing Peace, Mignon McPherson’s adaptation of a short story by Edwidge Danticat depicting an unlikely bond between an illiterate Haitian teenager and a desperate American visitor. Jameelah McMillan is all quiet depth as the naive islander who summons the courage to show the woman (an anguished Nancy Moricette) where her journalist mother was murdered in Port-au-Prince. Though long in coming, their exchange of secrets credibly builds to redemption for both.