'DA KINK IN MY HAIR by Trey Anthony, directed by Weyni Mengesha, with anthony, Raven Dauda, Satori Shakoor, Ordena Stephens, Ngozi Paul and d'bi.young. Presented by David & Ed Mirvish at the Princess of Wales (300 King West). Runs to February 27, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday, Saturday-Sunday 2 pm. $25-$65, limited same-day rush $20. 416-872-1212. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
A too elaborate production can't take away the raw power and honesty of trey anthony 's 'Da Kink In My Hair .
Set in a T.O. hair salon frequented by black women, anthony's modest work began life as a series of readings at the NOW Lounge, became a hit Fringe play, graduated to Passe Muraille's Mainspace and has now been teased almost beyond recognition over at the mammoth Princess of Wales Theatre.
Some of the overdone effects include huge, glitzy curlicue props flying through the air - apparently symbolizing the "kinky" quality of black women's hair - and a book-ending motif that takes us back to historic Africa.
These elements overpower the simple script. Other additions, like some songs sung by the terrific Jully Black or a dub poetry number written and delivered energetically by d'bi.young , feel grafted on and distracting.
That's a shame, because there's a ton of heart in anthony's play, which is essentially a simple series of monologues tied together by some colourful and often raunchy salon chit-chat.
Not all the monologues are equally well-shaped, but Raven Dauda sinks her teeth into her role as a troubled movie star, Ngozi Paul sizzles as a woman mourning the death of her judgmental mother, and Satori Shakoor takes on the new role of the middle-aged widower Enid with sensuality and comic gusto.
Anthony, warmly and with a terrific deadpan stare, reprises her comic part as down-to-earth salon owner Novelette, and the talented ensemble fill up the stage nicely, directed by Weyni Mengesha in often wonderfully theatrical ways.
As in past productions, d'bi.young stands out as the rambunctious Stacey Ann, a girl fresh from Jamaica who gradually reveals her family secrets. This is anthony's best-written monologue, and young works wonders playing with our emotions.
If 'Da Kink kept to basic, simple storytelling like this it would be far more powerful.