The Broadway play has lost its power

During the play For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enough, an awkward question nagged viewers:

theater criticism

90 minutes without a break. At the Booth Theatre, 222 W 45th Street.

How relevant is this show still?

The sluggish revival of the 1976 drama, which premiered on Broadway Wednesday night, isn’t a particularly compelling reason for its timeliness.

Unfortunately, the piece comes across as an antiquated time machine at odds with the current conversation. A glimpse into a specific, different era would be fine—many revivals fit that bill—but “for girls of color” seems terribly intent on emphasizing the present moment. However, a strong connection to the present time is nowhere to be found.

Although the suffering of women – the main theme – has unfortunately never disappeared, the way it is discussed in Ntozake Shange’s work is uncomfortably antiquated.

For one thing, the piece of poetry, which has been widely acclaimed over the years, builds on an old-school feminism that relies on women loudly ranting at men.

Seven women tell traumatic stories in "for colored girls."
In “For Colored Girls” seven women tell traumatic stories.
Courtesy of Polk & Co

The seven black women on stage, named after a colour, deliver vivid speeches, often about their traumatic experiences with rapists, murderers, alcoholics, con artists and other idiots. Good guys are almost impossible to find. The descriptions of the black men the characters encounter now read as extremely stereotypical.

For example, to describe what rapists are like, the characters say, “Pin-ups on the inside of his lapel / Ticket strips from porn movies in his pocket.”

Shange also writes in a love it or you don’t style, with women telling us their stories of parties, dates, sexual experiences and more. These are expressive monologues, not acted scenes, and it’s easy to get lost in all the rhythm and description. Some of them are downright sluggish and will overwhelm you.

Still, the cast is tight-knit and lively. They are Amara Granderson, Tendayi Kuumba, Kenita R Miller, Okwui Okpokwasili, Stacey Sargeant, Alexandria Wailes and D Woods. Okpokwasili and Woods deliver particularly gripping performances.

The liveliest sections of the production are non-verbal. Director Camille A. Brown’s brightly choreographed dance transitions bring solemnity to a play that, though it has its funny bits, is often a succession of complaints.

There is a triumphant force in the women’s movement in music that spectacularly captivates us. Because unlike the piece, the dance is new and fresh.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/20/for-colored-girls-review-broadway-play-has-lost-its-power/ The Broadway play has lost its power

Dais Johnston

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