Review by Jen Bush
Halloween may have ended 10 days ago but there are still some remnants of it going on at The American Theatre of Actors. Divination is a play by Dorian Palumbo that delves into mysticism. The tale centers around a crystal shop in N.J. where six women with six gifts and six problems congregate for a weekly class in mediumship led by Geri Wheatcroft from Scotland. My apologies to any superstitious readers for the aforementioned succession of numbers but quite fitting for a play of this nature. All the women are familiar and comfortable with each other. A new student named Tara played by Yating Sun, shows up. She awkwardly infiltrates the tight knit group seeking a fast and easy solution to her problems. Scenarios like that usually don’t end well for anyone. In her quest for power and inner peace, Tara becomes something akin to The Scorcerer’s Apprentice sans the innocence. There are consequences for all. Hopefully six women from diverse backgrounds with different mystical abilities can reclaim their life balance.
The show was interesting and compelling with a twist thrown in for good measure. The set was simple and functional. The costumes were attractive and looked good on the cast. The ensemble was a shining cohesive unit of strong women with excelling acting chops. Yating Sun’s portrayal of Tara came across as acerbic. It was hard to empathize with her even after her character underwent a transformation. Those were good and appropriate choices for that character. The shop was owned by Michelle played by Esther Ayomide “Ayo” Akinsanya. Michelle was somewhat angry and appeared to wrestle with the gifts given to her. She showed appropriate vulnerability when her shop was in danger. Her portrayal was serious and she had some witty sarcastic lines. By stark contrast was the whimsical and at times inappropriate character of Louise played by Christine Dewar. If she is not English in real life, her accent was amazingly spot on. London Griffith did a fine and credible job of portraying Giovanna, a teacher with an ill husband. Abagail Choi Arader was wonderful portraying the young and vibrant Badriyah who was stuck with a less than young and vibrant husband. Finally, a gifted actress playing a character with a gift was Meredith Rust as Geri. She was so convincingly Scottish and immersed in her role, I completely forgot that just a short while ago, she was equally as wonderful as the saucy librarian in Banned in Bisbee at this very theater. Her Scottish accent was flawless. Another Banned in Bisbee alumni, Ken Coughlin, did a great job of directing his Bisbee cast mate and the rest of the cast. Divination was a play well done by all involved.