Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God
Karamu Theatre
Review by Mark Horning

Also see Mark's review of My First Time


Kaila Benford, India Pierre-Ingram and
Mary-Francis Renee Miller

Photo by Michelle Berki
At first blush, the Karamu production of The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God is a convoluted and fragmented tale. It is only when begin thinking about it after the fact that the complexity of this nod to George Bernard Shaw reveals itself.

The play begins with a preface delivered by George Bernard Shaw (Robert Branch), from whose story of the same name the play is taken. This diatribe sets off the work in grand style as Shaw passes out birthday party hats and noisemakers to the audience, along with copies of his story, while arguing with various cast members.

The Black Girl (India Pierre-Ingram) has asked one too many questions of her English missionary (Samantha Cocco), which has driven the woman to make a hasty retreat back to her home country. Left spiritually abandoned, the Black Girl begins a solitary journey to find God.

In an almost "Alice Through the Looking Glass" kind of voyage, the Black Girl meets and parlays with such characters as Black Mamba Snake (Kaila Benford), Lord of Hosts/Naturalist (Robert Branch), Black Bearer (Mary-Francis Renee Miller), Micah the Morasthite/King Solomon/Physicist (Prophet D. Seay), Servant/Conjurer (Michael Head), Mathematician (Samantha Cocco) and Almighty/Biologist (Karl Toth).

While each personage has their own particular take on the presence and use of god, in the end it is the Black Girl who must ultimately make her own inner discovery of what works for her.

This short (around 75 minutes) but powerful work is much more than a single girl's search for a deity. It is a strong social commentary on such issues as colonialism, the role of women, the role of blacks, forced religion, science vs. religion, and the bad rap that snakes have had to endure because of a biblical reference.

The ensemble cast of eight play the fifteen characters with exhausting energy and verve. Adding much to the dialog is musical accompaniment with Ismail Douglas playing a traditional uhadi with Mary-Francis Renee Miller on African drum.

While this whirlwind performance may seem confusing, at its core are some very deep ideas that bear thinking about. Enjoy a powerful and energetic evening of live theater with a high energy cast.

The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, through April 15, 2018, in the Karamu Arena Theatre, 2355 E 89th St., Cleveland OH. Tickets may be purchased online at www.karamuhouse.org or by phone at 216-795-7077.


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