IN OLD AGE brilliantly staged at the Magic
IN OLD AGE: Drama by Mfoniso Udofia. Directed by Victor Malana Maog. Magic Theatre’s Fort Mason location (Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., Building D, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA. 415-441-8822 or www.magictheatre.org March 27 – April 21, 2019
IN OLD AGE brilliantly staged at the Magic Rating:
American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) and the Magic Theatre have teamed up to present two of Mfoniso Udofia’s nine cycle semiautobiographical plays about a multigenerational Nigerian American family. Her Portmanteau recently closed had a brilliantly staging at the elegant Strand Theatre under the direction of Victor Malana Maog who helms this world premiere of In Old Age at the Magic. Whereas Her Portmanteau requires knowledge of the family tree, In Old Age stands alone with tangential reference to family in general. It is a three character play with two speaking parts and a third non-speaking part speaking volumes.
That non-speaking character is the dilapidated New England house (brilliant stark set by Andrew Boyce) in which Abasiama Ufot (Nancy Moricette) lives. She is alone yet has a supportive family who keeps in touch with her and have arranged for a local contractor Azell Abernathy (Steven Anthony Jones) to repair the floors. They are two opinionated older persons with life styles that clash with mystical interference by the house that has not been consulted but has definite opinions expressed in the sound design suggested in the script and brought to life by Sara Huddleston’s sound design.
Udofia’s script contains copious stage direction notes including the length of pauses and the level of interference by the house noise and the gospel music that emanates from a TV that has only one channel and a blue screen. The house is full of memories and baggage that are stored in the cellar with a door that locks from the inside. That baggage represents the dark side of past life with her husband who is deceased. There is more than a suggestion that Abasiama has a touch of dementia as she responds to unheard voices and is physically/emotionally attached to her furniture.
The secrets of Azell’s past life and his relation to his children are revealed through Abasiama’s insistent question of “Who are you?” You can feel the turmoil of Azell through the powerful yet subdued naturalistic acting by Steven Anthony Jones. You feel his turmoil and understand his brief episodes of rage making the eventual reconciliation with Abasiama more poignant.
Although Nancy Moricette’s performance seems appropriate for the role there is a problem with accepting the final scene when she appears with completely white hair suggesting she has accepted the natural aging process and can live out her life now that she has removed the physical and emotional baggage in her life.
Separating by Victor Malana Maog’s intricate direction from author Udofia’s written notes is impossible and unnecessary since they work together as hand in glove. He is aided by the fine scenic design of Andrew Boyce who uses a skeleton of a house intricately illuminated by York Kennedy’s lighting.
The running time is 100 minutes and the opening night audience gave it a standing ovation.
CAST: Steven Anthony Jones as “Azell Abernathy” and Nancy Moricette as “Abasiama Ufot.”
CREATIVE TEAM: In addition to Ms. Udofia and Mr. Maog, the creative team includes Andrew Boyce (Scenic Design), Sara Huddleston (Sound Design), Courtney Flores (Costume Design) and York Kennedy (Lighting Design).
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com