Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Mojo and the Sayso - ACT Theatre

The Mojo and the Sayso
ACT Theatre
August 31, 2007 – September 30, 2007

Amongst the introspective lighting design and complex costuming, an absurd theatrical event takes place during The Mojo and the Sayso by Aishah Rahman. A Hansberry Project production, this show comes to us from a group of African-American playwrights creating shows dealing with African-American culture in the United States. Their goal is to create long-lasting impressions in their plays that will stay with the theater community for years to come.

The Mojo and the Sayso attempts to produce a metaphor relating to family issues stemming from a recent tragedy that no one is very willing to discuss. Each character finds their own way of coping with it which, unfortunately, clashes with the other characters’ methods. This creates a disjointedness throughout the production that eventually resolves at the conclusion, but leaves the audience relatively unsatisfied.

Jose A. Rufino (Blood), Lindsay Smiling (Acts) and Tracy Michelle Hughes (Awilda) Photo by Chris Bennion

However, the performances and environment surrounding the play were impressive to say the least. With a four-member cast, the show is incredibly tight. All of the actors (Tracy Michelle Hughes, Lindsay Smiling, Jose A. Rufino and Timothy McCuen Piggee) play off of each other extremely well and are obviously very tuned in to each other on stage. Additionally, they are surrounded by some of the most simply clever devices for set and effects that an audience member can experience. The set design by Jennifer Zeyl remains in a stage of physical homeostasis while minimal and yet vital pieces come on and go off augmenting the action on stage. Meanwhile, the lighting designs by Tom Sturge is the key for the audience to somewhat understanding what each scene is intending. The lights pinpoint who the focus is at what time and what level of tension the action has surrounding it. The precision of the lighting comes from great skill and carries a great weight of the show.

While the production is confusing and incongruous at times – the actors, sets and lights guide the audience through and get them to the other side. A very contemplative show, The Mojo and the Sayso deals with some heavy issues without, itself, feeling too heavy. Meanwhile, as a whole production, all the elements come together well and find a happy medium.

Review by Nigel Andrews and Rick Skyler

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