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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Its title has a double meaning. It signifies that glorious day when Nelson Mandela was released from prison and also marked the birth of Victoria (Tinashe Kajese), the heroine of this play.
Vicky's parents worked for many years for Lionel (Morlan Higgins) and his late wife Sara. Lionel is a retired schoolteacher, now living alone with only the books lining the cozy wood-paneled room designed by Travis Gale Lewis as his beloved companions. One night a young black couple break into his house. Their desperation is palpable as they plunder the place, looking for the money Vicky has told Freddie (Lovensky Jean-Baptiste) the old man has there.
Lionel turns on the lights, gun in hand, and discovers the couple. His sorrow as he discovers Vicky is not only thief but instigator becomes reproachfu , as he reprimands her for not bringing her school transcripts so he could help her further her education.
When Freddy captures the gun, Lionel wryly tells him " The hand that holds the gun is the master" As Freddy leaves the house to load the loot into Lionel's car, Vicky shrieks at Lionel that he never listened to what she was telling him about the horrors of her life but grudgingly gave her money so she wouldn't bother him.
Under Stephen Sachs' taut direction, the play singes with suspense and fear. Fugard deftly uses it as a vehicle to express the obtuseness of both blacks and whites. Lionel's insensitivity is just as oblique as is bright Vicky's inability to further her education and make something of herself.
Morlan Higgins turns in his usual sensitive performance as the gentle Lionel. Freddy's part is written as one-dimensional rage which Jean-Baptiste has the power to express. This character gives the play a consistently pulsing menace, but it would be even better if it were more nuanced. It's Ms. Kajese's performance that gives the play its throbbing heart. She fully inhabits the poignant and frustrating Vicky with passion, fear and a charming ability to wheedle. Like Vicky, she has what it takes to fulfill her destiny as a heroine.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide