Audrey Dwyer gets mythic as Black Medea.
LATE By Marcia Johnson and BLACK MEDEA by Wesley Enoch (Obsidian). At Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley). To October 5. $20-?$30. 416-?368-?3110. See Continuing. Rating: NNN
Losing a lover hits everyone hard, but not everyone reacts in the same fashion. In Obsidian Theatre's double bill, Marcia Johnson's Late turns loss into a bittersweet romantic comedy; Wesley Enoch's Black Medea takes its deserted central character into inexorable tragedy.
In Late, the troubled Donna (Sabryn Rock) has to deal with Carol, a pushy new tenant (Edwige Jean-Pierre) who's sublet a basement apartment from touring musician Locksley (Mazin Elsadig). Johnson's sharp dialogue makes the comedy ring true; the best scenes are between the nervously comic Carol, who doesn't know the meaning of personal space, and the restrained Donna, lost in memories of her husband.
Director Marjorie Chan brings clarity to the time shifts in the story, and her timing in the scene changes gives a lesson in comic pacing.
The tone shifts abruptly in Black Medea, which turns the classic Greek story into a poetic Australian Aboriginal tale. The tribal Medea (Audrey Dwyer) seeks a new, sophisticated life by wedding Jason (Lindsay Owen Pierre), "a city black" who becomes as uncaring about Medea as he is about the land he rapes for its resources.
The narrating chorus (Mariah Inger and Tiffany Martin) represents that land, and at first are imaginary figures in the minds of Jason and Medea. But this haunting pair soon become more distinct as they work their seductions on the couple.
Enoch's version of the story includes snapshot tableaux of the past, of Jason and Medea in happier times.
Director Philip Akin doesn't always capture the script's power, but he tightens the story's finale with a mesmerizing chill as Dwyer and the chorus throw themselves into an unnerving dance, winding themselves into a ritual madness that leads to murder - a murder, strikingly, not for revenge but to end a long cycle of abuse.
Tamara Marie Kucheran's clever set gives Late a nicely modern twist, while her swivelling, corrugated metal panels in Black Medea lend the tale a backcountry, time-worn feel. Richard Lee's sound design is just as intriguing.