Review: speaking of sneaking

by Lynn on September 22, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre A Groundwork Redux and Buddies in Bad Time Theatre Production in Association with Obsidian Theatre. Plays until Oct. 1, 2023.

www.buddiesinbadtimes.com

Created, written and performed by daniel jelani ellis

Directed by d’bi.young anitafrika

Choreographer, Fairy J

Set and costumes by Rachel Forbes

Sound by Stephon Smith

Lighting by Andre du Toit

As director-dramaturge d’bi.young anitafrika writes in her programme note: speaking of sneaking by daniel jelani ellis…it’s an homage to liberation, offering freedom to traverse the infinite spectrums of gender, sexuality, and class via a Black queer lens.” It’s a mashup of dance, poetry and pantomime.

Anansi, the Akan trickster god is manifest in the form of a lithe, agile spider, spinning and weaving its web, beguiling, mesmerizing and drawing us into its beautiful intricacies. daniel jelanie ellis is present as the audience fills in. He scurries, jumps, skitters, and mostly squats close to the ground to skitter, using choreographer, Fairy J’s compelling movement to create Anansi the spider, other creatures, spirits and characters, all with precise detail that differentiates between beings.   

daniel jelani ellis is a wonderful actor/performer who has created a character from Jamaica that exemplifies the dream of moving away to “foreign” (Canada) to reap its many benefits. He was first taken there by his grandmother. She moved back but he remained. He made his living doing menial jobs in a grocery store, doing on-line sex and other jobs. His family back home believed he was rich and kept asking for money and he felt obliged to help them even though he didn’t have the means.

daniel jelani ellis is an engaging, energetic, very funny actor who puts a lovely spin on the Jamaican patois and also clearly realizes the myth and the reality of living in the imagined glow of “foreign.”

The production under the meticulous direction of d’bi.young anitafrika shimmers with invention and creativity. Rachel Forbes has created an arresting spider web of spindles that shoot out from the central pod. There is also a costume that daniel jelani ellis wears with beautiful wings that suggests a spider. André du Toit’s evocative lighting compliments the whole production and Stephon Smith’s sound design is both other worldly and contemporary.

It’s a terrific production.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre A Groundwork Redux and Buddies in Bad Time Theatre Production in Association with Obsidian Theatre.

Plays until Oct. 1, 2023.

Running time: 90 minutes (no intermission) plus a talk-back

www.buddiesinbadtimes.com

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