CANAAN: The Burden of Love

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Review by Rannie McCants
Part of the Midwinter Madness Festival presented by John Chatterton

In many ways, I don’t believe Canaan exists. It’s not a play, but a dream. The characters have an essence of reality, but they seem distant despite the intimacy of the theater. The playwright, Mohammad Saad Ali, says in an interview that his inspiration “came from a drug-induced trance” and I’m certain that might have something to do with my interpretation.

Yacub’s level of disenfranchisement seems so elusive and unattainable in a city like New York, but of course, I’m not a native. I’ve only heard of these hardships—of men like Yacub that come home angry and stone-faced after another day without work. From the reaction of his wife and sister, it seems worse than it’s been before. An attitude his expecting wife knows must end before the baby’s born.

With electric onstage chemistry, Yacub and his wife reminisce about the time they fell in love. She thinks back to the poetry they shared with one another. Although the love feels like a burden to Yacub, he eventually comes to the realization that love is a burden worth having.

At least, he has people to come home to love.

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IN SITU: You’ll be the last to know.

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REVIEW By Rannie McCants

In a quaint 60-seat theater in the heart of Midtown, the Southern Railroad Theatre Company took the audience on a much needed trip down to South Carolina in the summertime. Two old sorority sisters, Henri and Beth, gossip and tease each other like they might have done back in their college days, but it doesn’t take long for something to seem off.

Beth (Susan Jackson) has covered herself from head to toe with beach towels as she slathers sun lotion on barely exposed legs and hands. Jackson plays the overly timid character well, using shifty eyes and an authoritative tone to disguise the fear she’s been holding back.

Later, Beth reveals to her friend Henri (Diana Brown) that her cancer has returned. As Henri’s laughter subsides, she coldly tells her longtime friend that she cannot be there for her–not this time around.

I watched the women berate each other with nothing but contempt for the both of them. Beth being too whiny and Henri being too reckless; from beginning to end I sat thinking this is a pair of friends who deserve each other.

I can only hope that these characters draw up a little sympathy for one another and then maybe I wouldn’t feel as though I walked into the theater a moment too late.