A Golden Voyage

Demerara Gold Part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival Review by Ashley Hutchinson carib13k-12-webAs a rule, I’m usually very wary of one-man shows. The presentation is often cheesy and the different characters the one man is forced to play very frequently become caricatures of people. In the case of Demerara Gold, the format was much the same, a bare stage with a single chair and a single woman. However, the difference between the molds I’m used to and this play is the love that went into it. Ingrid Griffith plays herself, in a show that she has written, telling the audience of her story coming to America. The feel of the piece seemed to be a branch of storytelling, the theatricality associated with the word “play” seemed rather lax and instead the theatricality employed when telling a captivating story was present in the room. That being said, Ingrid Griffith’s ability to hold an entire audience’s attention is a talent that not many have. Her big, expressive eyes would widen with ever portrayal of her young self. Her childlike countenance is really quite impressive, and I found myself believing that she was indeed younger. The format of the show was rather memoir-like, focusing on memories that particularly stuck out to Griffith in her formative years. Though the subject matter proved serious and often truly heartbreaking, as when her parents moved away from Guyana and went to America, leaving Ingrid and her sister behind with their grandmother. Griffith recounted a time when she wrote her parents a letter asking, after four years of their absence, when they would be home, or if they would be home. This specific moment in the show was when I found the audience to truly be invested in the scene before them: as Griffith revealed that it had been four years, I heard the audience let out an “aw” of sympathy, and I discovered two things about Griffith’s performance. First, Griffith had created a memoir that had a certain magnetism due to the scenes chosen. I found that the amount of thought put in to which memories would be told might possibly have been the most ingenious detail of the show. And second, time throughout this memoir seemed to go at the pace of the emotional journey of the story: time was of no object; time hardly mattered, as with many of the great novels I have read. Griffith’s story might very well have been one of the best works of literature put to stage I had seen, and certainly created a strong bond between herself and the audience. Reciting lines to a room full of strangers takes quite an amount of bravery, but telling one’s own personal story is even more so. Damerara Gold was a bold performance full of heart and soul, and really makes us think about which moments in our lives truly count.

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