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Review: For Colored Girls... 

Dalt Wonk on a revival of Ntozake Shange's best-known play

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Anthony Bean has directed a thoroughly engrossing For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Ntozake Shange called her 1975 experimental drama a "choreopoem." The description is apt, but doesn't convey the electricity the piece generates.

  Seven women, identified in the script only by the color of their costumes, pour out a verbal fugue of what it means and how it feels to be both female and black. The women each reveal multiple episodes, many of them horrifying, including rape, abortion, abuse and more. No wonder suicide seems like the only way out. But there's also a rainbow in the title. It's an "inner" rainbow and expresses itself in the profusion of inventive group dancing (choreographed by Ieasha Prime-Martin, who also plays the Lady in Blue). African-Americans have often found strength and refuge in music, and this production demonstrates that.

  Bean tinkered with individual monologues, sometimes breaking a monologue into a scene with several players. He has also added period pop tunes, many sung by Asia Nelson, to good effect.

  Performers Toya Thomas, Sheleta Burke Manuel, Giselle Nahkid, Lauren Channell, Donna M. King, Dorshena M. Pittman and Prime-Martin keep the audience riveted. The drama is as fresh and experimental now as it was when it burst on the world and won several awards.

  Wanda Bryant's costumes are simple and tasteful: black leotards with some accessories to add color. John Grimsley's simple set is effective as is Lyn F. Caliva's lighting.

  There are too many brief scenes to single out any individually for description. The stunning climax, however, cannot be passed over. It's apparently based on a real incident. A man named Beau Willie Brown is determined to worm his way back into his broken marriage. His ex-wife, the mother of his young children, wants no part of it. He talks his way into her apartment and coaxes her to let him caress the kids, but he instead dangles the chidren by their feet out the sixth story window and threatens to drop them unless she agrees to marry him. I hate to leave you dangling, but I hate even more to reveal the ending, because I truly hope you will go see this extraordinary show and find out for yourself. Colored Girls deserves to be a hit. — DALT WONK


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