Weyni Mengesha directed this terrific play by Suzan-Lori Parks starring one of my favourite actors, Dion Johnstone. So I was prepared for an evening of great theatre, even without any clue what the subject of the play might be. It turned out to be a topical examination of race relations in America, set at the time of Emancipation and the US Civil War. But it was topical because the same issues are still so important today, in Canada as well as the United States.
The issues seem worse in the US because the gun culture makes confrontations so much more violent, but carding and random unjustified stopping of Blacks in Canada is part of the same racist spectrum.
The play is presented in three parts, although with only one intermission. Part 1, the Measure of a Man presents the problem facing Hero – should he go to war with his Master to win freedom at the end? He goes.
Part 2 – A Battle in the Wilderness – brings him face to face with a Union soldier who turns out not to be what he claims. Gregg Prest as Smith, the prisoner, and Oliver Dennis as the Colonel (Master) engage in a dialogue while they wait for their troops to catch up to them. The true nature of the Colonel is revealed. He is a liar who has promised freedom in the past,but reneged on his promise.
Part 3 – The Union of my Confederate Parts sees the return of Hero (now calling himself Ulysses) to the plantation and the waiting Penny. To say it is not a happy reunion is an understatement. Daren A. Herbert as Homer and Lisa Berry are both excellent as the long suffering lovers. Peter Fernandes is fantastic as Odyssey Dog, a most welcome comic relief.
The play was another example of the talent of the writer. We loved her earlier play, Top Dog/Under Dog and will be looking forward to many more great plays by this excellent talented woman.