Thursday, April 4, 2019

"In Old Age" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Some plays resonate in different ways with different audiences. Mfoniso Udofia's fifth entry into her Ufot Family Cycle, "In Old Age," currently having its World Premiere at the Magic Theatre in Fort Mason, touched us deeply. Even with the sound difficulties of Opening Night, including miking that seemed to disappear when characters turned their heads, as well as one character of a two-person cast speaking in a heavy Nigerian English accent, we empathized deeply with these struggling souls and did not need language to understand their plight.

It doesn't hurt to have actors of the caliber of Nancy Moricette as Abasiama and Steven Anthony Jones as Azell. We meet Abasiama as she sleeps on the sofa of her dilapidated home in Worcester, Mass. The doorbell rings and in walks Azell Abernathy, played, no, inhabited by Stephen Anthony Jones, who has been hired by Abasiama's children to try and repair her floors. Abasiama wants nothing to do with him. She is far more involved with her dead husband and his spirits, who may or may not be living in the back room.

And that's it. The rest of this brilliant one-act show is all about how two people from opposite worlds, one half-crazy with remembrances, and one trying gamely to overcome his own sorrow, can come to see each other as real people. The show is memorable from beginning to end. The ending brought tears to our eyes and a standing ovation.

Both Jones and Moricette are certain to win honors for these performances. The scene on the sofa where Azell and Abasiama begin talking like one another is a classic. Andrew Boyce's set, in which the floor becomes more and more finished as the handyman and the frightened woman begin to trust each other more, makes us applaud when the work finally is done.

RATINGS ☼  ☼  ☼  ☼

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants FOUR STARS to "In Old Age." This show is dynamite already and we can only imagine how powerful it will become in the next six weeks,

 "In Old Age"
The Magic Theatre
Fort Mason, Building D, San Francisco
Through April 21, 2019

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