’DA KINK IN MY HAIR by Trey Anthony, directed by Michele Shay. At the Enwave Theatre (231 Queens Quay West). To August 28. $37-$77. 416-973-4000. See listing Rating: NNN
Like a healthy head of hair, Trey Anthony's hard-hitting and inspiring monologue cycle about the challenges faced by black women in Canada continues to grow. This vibrant, updated remount, which caps a decade of increasingly successful productions - from Anthony's Fringe debut in 2001 to a lavish Mirvish production in 2005 and a Global TV series in 2008 - includes a new character and an amped-up musical focus developed for a 2010 performance at NYU's Tisch School.
Set in a bustling Caribbean salon in Toronto, Anthony's well-crafted monologues engage with pertinent social issues like gun violence, queer identity, suicide, aging and immigration. Her strength is writing characters who always prove more complex than they first appear (regular gasps from the audience are a good index of these shattered expectations).
Anthony's new monologue - about a white woman (Jennifer Neales) who attempts to reconcile with her racist family after having a child with a black partner - resonates alongside the seven older pieces. However, the most gripping tale remains the tragic and haunting story revealed by Stacey-Anne (Thais Francis), a young immigrant from Jamaica who finds the comfort of Canada's middle class poisoned by her step-father.
New musical-styled elements find the cast segueing between monologues with mostly a cappella R&B songs (composed by Michael McElroy and Carol Maillard) and choreography by Roger C. Jeffrey that ranges from funky nightclub moves to traditional African dance.