(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Fraser Grace's thought-provoking drama, first staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2006, has finally reached Manhattan via Centenary College in New Jersey, where the present production originated a few years back. It was worth the wait. At the center of the play are Robert Mugabe (Michael Rogers), strongman of Zimbabwe since 1980, and Andrew Peric (Ezra Barnes), a fictive white psychiatrist engaged to treat him in the Fall of 2001 when he was plagued by an ngozi, the malevolent spirit of someone who died violently. Peric, a native Rhodesian/Zimbabwean, has a small tobacco farm overseen by his black African wife while he attends to patients in the capital. We also meet Grace (Rosalyn Coleman), Mugabe's attractive second wife, 40 years his junior, and Gabriel (Che Ayende), Mugabe's bodyguard, who have their own agendas. The therapy sessions are not just a sparring match between patient and therapist, but a microcosm of the struggle between the races and a displaced battleground for settling colonial scores. One justifiably fears for Peric's safety. The penultimate scene is a rousing campaign speech by Mugabe during the 2002 campaign. Powerful though it is, it seemed an intrusion in the flow of events. However, it does set up the touching scene that closes the play. The actors are all excellent, as is David Shukhoff's direction. Lee Savage's set design and Teresa Snider-Stein's costumes are effective. A Two Planks production at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes; no intermission. NOTE: I suggest arriving a few minutes early to have time to read the helpful glossary inserted in the program.