Reviewed by Paula Citron
Obsidian Theatre/Nightwood Theatre
Written by Lynn Nottage
Directed by Philip Akin
Performed by Yanna McIntosh, Sterling Jarvis, Sabryn Rock, Sophia Walker, Marci T. House, Richard Alan Campbell, Anthony Palmer, André Sills, Mark Senior, and Muoi Nene, with musicians Thomas Olajide and Daniso Ndhlovu
Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs
Jan. 16 to Feb. 12, 2011
Lynn Nottage’s powerful play Ruined is set in the former Belgian Congo where battles rage over gold and diamonds.
Caught between the rebel and government forces, sits Mama Nadi’s bar and brothel where everyone is welcome as long as they have money. Yanna McIntosh as Mama Nadi gives a performance of a lifetime.
The Ruined of the title refers obviously to the rape and kidnapping of these former girl concubines, and the rejection by their families and villages for being damaged goods. But morality is also in ruins, as is the actual landscape, and the very soul of the country.
Sometimes the African accents are a bit impenetrable, but overall, the acting is superb, and this large cast of characters, each with its point of view, breathes life into the bitter conflict.
Rather than call the women victims, Nottage wants them viewed as survivors, and this play is a testament to that spirit.
Ruined continues at Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs until Feb. 12.