'DA KINK IN MY HAIR by Trey Anthony, directed by Weyni Mengesha, with Anthony, Zena Brown, Raven Dauda, Miranda Edwards, Quancetia Hamilton, Ngozi Paul, Ordena Stephens and d'bi.young. Presented by Plaitform Entertainment and Theatre Passe Muraille in the Passe Muraille Mainspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to June 29, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2:30 pm. $23-$32, Sunday pwyc, rush seats $15. 416-504- 7529. Rating: NNN b> Rating: NNNNN
'Da Kink In My Hair has lots of soul in lots of ways. All it sometimes lacks is craft. Set in a West Indian hair salon, Trey Anthony 's series of monologues highlights black women's experiences - sexual, racial and social - in their own community and beyond. At the start the shop's owner, Novelette (Anthony), the red-haired mistress of her domain, explains that a woman stores her emotions in her hair. As she manipulates the locks of six customers, their poetic stories spill out, often starting with a light or comic tone and seguing into more serious territory.
All the actors' work brims with emotive power, and there's great chemistry onstage when they sing and dance as a group. But Anthony and director Weyni Mengesha in some cases deliver a tale's climax too soon, weakening its power. The outcomes of a few others can be predicted within the first few minutes.
Anthony herself initially fails to sell her own comic persona successfully - opening night jitters? - but she soon has the audience laughing up a storm. Standouts in the cast are the expressive Ordena Stephens as a believer whose God can't protect her from tragedy and anger, and Raven Dauda and Ngozi Paul as daughters who, for very different reasons, lack their mothers' total love and acceptance.
The most mesmerizing is d'bi. young 's Jamaican-born, patois-talking, ever-kinetic youngster, whose face is as eloquent as her words in tracking a journey from incandescent joy to guilt-tinged horror.
Ultimately this lyrical, entertaining show is about healing and self-acceptance, and its hot, joyous finale sweeps away the script's occasional flaws.
Young Dream A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM by William Shakespeare, directed by Simon Michellepis, with Scott Moore, Geoff Kolamayz, Kelly Taylor, Naomi Kayla, Sarah Sheps, Kristy Findlay, Jay Chellew and Daniel Benakoun. Alchemy Theatre (133 Tecumseth). Runs to June 21, Thursday-Saturday 8:30 pm. $15, underemployed $10. 416-998-7503. Rating: NN alchemy theatre's a midsummer Night's Dream is a young production, in terms of its performers and their experience. On the plus side, the exuberance of the actors strengthens the quartet of lovers, and some of the cast create strong characters. On the other hand, many of the actors stumble with text they have trouble penetrating. The problem is less one of clarity than of communicating the emotions of Shakespeare 's comedy of mismatched loves, trickster fairies and rough theatrics. The audience gets a clearly enunciated text, but some actors run through their lines without delivering - or maybe grasping - the words' emotions and poetry. Mind you, you can't ruin the comedy of the Pyramus and Thisbe play at the end.
Director Simon Michellepis , who's cut several characters from the original and turned one of the mechanicals into a hand puppet, moves the action along briskly and clearly knows the work. He gets some good performances out of a large cast, notably Andrea Lyons 's tart Egeus and Kelly Taylor 's moving Titania. The male lovers ( Jay Chellew and Daniel Benakoun ) are better defined than their female partners ( Sarah Sheps and Kristy Findlay ). Best of all is Scott Moore's blustery Bottom, here a scene-stealer trying not only to take over the Pyramus play but also to upstage Peter Quince (Rob Baker) at every turn.