Reviewed by Jeanette Toomer
Presented by the American Place Theater, 111 W. 46 St., NYC, Nov. 13-Dec. 31.
"Living in the Wind," written by Michael Bradford, is an engrossing drama, rich with history and mythic characters that, although dead, dominate the stage. These are the more interesting people who live in this romantic drama that seamlessly weaves the past with the present.
Chad L. Coleman plays Isaiah, a former slave, who returns to his wife's home after an abrupt departure and long absence. Coleman gives a fine-tuned portrayal of a man who, despite being in love, is unable to reconcile his past life with an exclusive marital relationship. He is more compelling than Cheryl Freeman as Sarah, the wife, who often appears ineffective in this central role.
Nathan Hinton as JoJo/Griot is magnetic and energizing as both man and spirit—reliving the horrors of slave life and haunting Isaiah for his insincerity and weak-minded nature. Keesha Sharp as Mary, his intended, tends to overact in flashbacks that depict violent events and the unrelenting oppression of American slavery.
Supporting actors Arthur French and Lizan Mitchell demonstrate innate vitality and studied concern in their interaction with Isaiah and Sarah. French adds some well-placed humor. Mitchell offers well-meaning advice, but acts intrusive and judgmental about Sarah's future with Isaiah.
Director Regge Life keeps the action fluid in sweeping movements that reflect a continuum of time and experience whose impact is inescapable. Although the play takes place in the post-Civil War years, the damaging effects of slavery are deeply felt.
Set design by Beowulf Boritt deserves special mention. And lighting by Chad McArver includes dramatic special effects.