Sunday, April 23, 2017
Part I - Sojourners - is your introduction to Abasiama Ekpeyoung (Chinasa Ogbuagu) and Ukpong Ekpeyoung (Hubert Point-Du-Jour) and their immediate life post immigration from Nigeria to the USA - Houston, Texas, to be precise. It's a tough time, adjusting is hard, working for low wages and long hours is tough - and Abasiama is pregnant - very pregnant. They have goals - get a great education (the reason for immigration) and start their family and eventually return home. As with all of the best laid plans - things don't always go the way you intend. Some rather tough decisions need to be made.
We are also introduced to a character that is much more pivotal to the second play (the actual 4th play in the series) - Disciple Ufot (Chinaza Uche) and a rather sad character named Moxie Wilis (Lakisha Michelle May). As a side comment - this play is the first of SEVEN and NYTW is only presenting two of them - I wondered if Moxie is explored in any of the other plays? Upon some further research, only time will tell, as plays 6-9 are not yet completed but I think time will pass her over as the plays seem to be written sequentially.
Performances are top notch. Mr. Point-Du-Jour is charming and lovable despite his shortcomings and you can just see how anyone could want to start a life with him (their marriage was arranged). Ms. Ogbuagu was magnificent in her portrayal of Abasiama - strong, touching, and human.
My only complaint is that there was not enough exposition as to whom these characters were. We went almost 75 minutes without ever being told who the man at his desk was (Disciple) and how he fit into the story. Perhaps one mysterious scene is theatrically effective but repeated scenes with a man who has no connection to the story is a bit much. This happened a few times throughout the first play in other areas and it was quite noticeable that you had to figure out (i.e. GUESS) a few of the circumstances rather than be sure through dialogue or story what exactly was going on. Thankfully things cleared up by the end but a few frustrated audience members left at the intermission.