THE GLOW OF REFLECTED LIGHT, Ma’at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre, at Victory Gardens Theater. The search for a perfect society is an admirable one, but the road to utopia is never easy–as the population of New Concordia, Ontario, discovers in the year 1832. Though this Negro settlement has the protection of the British government, that proves no guarantee against disease, harsh weather, or hostile neighbors envious of the settlement’s prosperity.
Playwright Shepsu Aakhu is clearly fascinated by the social structure of this and other such communities, focusing less on personalities than on his characters’ histories–the light-skinned refugee from Georgia, for example, who posed as her dark-complected husband’s owner, which enabled both to travel to Boston in safety; the fugitive who wrote his former master, courteously informing him of his successful escape; and the colonists’ strategic appeals to abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic.
Under the direction of Mignon McPherson, the actors infuse Aakhu’s slow-paced dialogue with a vernacular interest–particularly Tina Marie Wright as the steely community matriarch. But Georges Blaise’s live incidental music and Imani Foster’s dances, though well executed, seem to belong to another play altogether. Still, The Glow of Reflected Light is an intriguing and entertaining, if somewhat dry, look at a noble experiment.
–Mary Shen Barnidge