by Paula Citron
Obsidian Theatre is Toronto’s premiere black theatre company. Its latest offering is a play based on Austin Clarke’s distinguished novel The Polished Hoe. The adaptation by director Colin Taylor in collaboration with lead actress Alison Sealy-Smith is a mixed bag of goods.
The play has virtually become a very long monologue for Sealy-Smith who plays Mary-Matilda, an elderly woman on the fictitious Caribbean island of Bimshire in 1952. She has called the police to report an incident, and the play is basically her tortuous account of those dark events. I say tortuous because it takes Mary forever to get to the point. As a result, there is little drama or conflict.
Sealy-Smith is a top actress, and she leads a strong cast, although the production values are peculiar because neither the set nor the costumes make any sense.
There is a play in Clarke’s novel, but this plodding treatment isn’t quite it.
The Polished Hoe continues until Mar. 4.
From the Enwave Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.