Is God Is: gorgeously nasty

Mixed Blood Theatre, through Oct 14

Chaz Hodges and Dame-Jasmine Hughes in IS GOD IS. Photo by Rich Ryan.

“The fire keeps tryna come out.”

Mixed Blood‘s wonderfully repellent and highly original Is God Is, written by Aleshea Harris, is a clutch-popper. Credit – definitely the right word, because this play zips along like a house afire and is thus highly watchable – goes in equal parts to director Nataki Garrett and to actor Dame-Jasmine Hughes. Garret’s muscular take on the material is perfect – a slow, lyrical/poetic approach might have, imo, ruined the play. And Hughes responds to Garret by energizing every scene she’s in, and she’s in almost every scene. Except at the end. (And if you think I’m going to describe Is God Is‘s ending you’ve got another think coming.)

Indeed, I’m reluctant to summarize this unusual play in any real detail. Discover Is God Is on your own. Link to the Mixed Blood website and get your tickets. Go is what I’m saying.

But there are a few things you ought to be aware of. Is God Is is loud. If you have sensitive hearing, as I do, you may want to sit in the back. The production employs strobe lighting at several points. Another reason to sit in the back. Is God Is is violent, extremely so. It’s not for the squeamish. The play is about scarring, on the outside as well as on the inside. The characters are often self-centered and creepy (e.q., the poet so in thrall to his creative process that he won’t even help his mother carry the groceries he’s going to eat). Revenge is a dish best served cold and Is God Is serves up triple helpings and if you don’t delight in this, well, Is God Is may not be your cup of tea. But don’t pass this beautifully gruesome play up.

Producer (and intrepid Mixed Blood artistic director) Jack Reuler had the good sense to A. choose the play, and B. hire Garrett and Hughes.

The acting is uniformly fab. Chaz Hodges thrills as the willowy sister, Anaia (whose fire comes out, and then some). Joy Dolo also thrills as God/Mother, the woman taking 18 years to die of her burn wounds. She’s hootfully funny and if this strikes you as illogical, well, here you have another reason to see the play. Kevin D. West is excellent as the dipsomaniacal, bermuda shorts wearing attorney Chuck, and ditto Cory Pullam and Jacob Gibson as the shriekingly selfish brothers. Jessica Rosilyn as Mom, Kirkaldy Myers as the sociopathic killer-dad, all terrific.

Recommended.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. John’s The Voice Of The Prairie has been performed 100 plus times and ditto Minnesota Moon and his adaptation of Sideways Stories From Wayside School. Please visit John’s informational website.

 

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