Reviewed by Paula Citron.
J.T. Rogers’ The Overwhelming is well-meaning, earnest theatre. Using a fictional American family as a catalyst, the playwright tries to shed some light on the events that led up to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. While tautly directed by Joel Greenberg, and for the most part, very well acted, the plot somehow seems contrived.
American academic Jack Exley, who is white, is an idealist about grassroots movements. His second wife Linda, who is black, writes personal essays. Exley’s teenage son Geoffrey by his first marriage, is mourning the death of his mother.
Each of the three are unwittingly recruited into different sides of the looming Hutu/Tutsi conflict. The problem seems to be that in trying to show every possible side of the issue, playwright Rogers has made his characters Johnnyone notes.
There is a lot of sturm und drang in The Overwhelming, and the production does throbs with tension.
The Overwhelming continues at Berkeley Street Theatre until Apr. 3.
Written by J.T. Rogers
Directed by Joel Greenberg
Starring David Storch, Mariah Inger, Brendan McMurtry-Howlett, Hardee T. Lineham, Nigel Shawn Williams and Sterling Jarvis
Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs, Mar. 8 to Apr. 3, 2010