THE ADVENTURES OF A BLACK GIRL IN SEARCH OF GOD written and directed by Djanet Sears, with Alison Sealy-Smith, Walter Borden, Barbara Barnes-Hopkins, David Collins, Lili Francks, Herb Johnson, Jackie Richardson and Michael Spencer-Davis. Presented by Obsidian, Nightwood and Harbourfront Centre at the du Maurier Theatre (231 Queen's Quay West). Runs to February 23, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 2:30 pm. $20-$40. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
before the first word is spoken in Djanet Sears's The Adventures Of A Black Girl In Search Of God, the cast of 21 -- mostly actors of colour -- mass on the stage. The silent energy they generate is huge. When the words, the music and the dancing start, the evening gets even better.In this splendid Obsidian Theatre premiere, writer/director Sears looks at the troubled Rainey (Alison Sealy-Smith), who, about to be divorced from her preacher husband Michael (David Collins), finds herself unable to face the death of her daughter three years before and the impending death of her father, Abendigo (Walter Borden).
Sears also plays out the ripples that connect Rainey to larger concerns, including faith, the black legacy in Canada, her father's history and a group of 70-year-olds who go around the Collingwood area "liberating" black lawn ornaments.
The comedy of those septuagenarians provides one solid anchor of the script, balancing the enormous, seemingly unsolvable dilemmas Rainey must meet head on. Sealy-Smith captures all of Rainey's heartache and pain, never distancing herself or the audience from this intelligent, warm woman who eats ashes and dozens of aspirin and can't imagine any more loss in her life.
Every member of the cast contributes to the production's strength, as do designers Astrid Janson and Paul Mathiesen. I've never seen a more magnificent use of a chorus, the ever-alert 13 performers who are part of the action as trees, parishioners, statues and even the waters of Negro Creek, the site and also the multi-layered emblem of much of the action. Choreographed by Vivine Scarlett with flowing, wavelike motions, and led by musical director Alejandra Nuñez in the show's jazzy scat melodies and spirituals, the chorus helps give Adventures its rich soul.
Not to be missed.