by Paula Citron.
Once a Flame & From Here to Africville
C Theatre Works
Written by Beau Dixon
Directed by Gordon Gresko
Starring Nawa Nicole Simon and Brendan Jeffers
At Factory Studio Theatre in Toronto until Feb. 2.
C Theatre Works promotes plays with Canadian-driven social issues, and the company’s inaugural season is promising.
The program’s two plays are by Afro-Canadian writer Beau Dixon. Once a Flame tells the harrowing story of the defiant black slave Marie Joseph Angélique who was executed for arson in Old Montreal in 1734. From Here to Africville is set in the late 1950s and features a delinquent kid who takes up boxing just as Africville’s closely-knitted black community is being threatened with extinction by the city of Halifax.
Theatrically, the performances are uneven, and the directing very pedestrian. Playwright Dixon has made a strong start but tends to spoon-feed information to the audience. Nonetheless, the magnificent performance of Nawa Nicole Simon as Marie Joseph Angélique is alone worth the price of admission.
It is tantalizing to think about what a better director and more even acting would have meant to this double bill.
The Beau Dixon double bill continues at Factory Studio Theatre until Feb. 2.