Little Children Dream of God @ The Road Theatre, 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601. February 23 – April 15
Written by Jeff Augustin
Directed by Andre Barron
Featuring Jaquita Ta’le, Blaire Chandler, Hari Williams, Jonathan Bangs, Latarsha Rose, Jonathan Nichols, and Sedale Threatt Jr.
Yet another glorious play from The Road. A stunning and thought-provoking glimpse into one woman’s desperate flight from a brutal husband and a regretful life in Haiti.
The risks being taken by so many worldwide to escape the kind of life that many of us could never survive let alone find the strength to fight our way through and move beyond are exquisitely defined in “Little Children Dream of God.”
But this play is far more than the story of a journey to safety. It reminds us that no one’s history is simple and no one’s life can be reduced to singular motivations and understandable perspectives.
When Sula arrives in Miami after a perilous crossing on the open sea from Haiti, with the help of an oversized inner tube, she is heavily pregnant and frightened. She makes her way to an address given to her by a friend, a place of safety and support, owned by a man who has made it his life’s mission to help people most would not.
When she arrives she is told that the man, the owner of the apartment building where so many misfits and outcasts have called home, has passed away. It is his son who now must make the choice to help her and her soon to be born son and, in doing so, he changes his own life by risking more than ever before.
This is a play about trust, about faith in our fellow human beings even when they offer us no reason to trust them.
It seems to me that choosing to believe in something, deciding to, especially when it seems completely impossible and misguided, can force us to face our own mortality, to connect with each other not as an act of desperation but an act of faith.
One of the tenants in the building believes that her 11 children are fathered by God, who she speaks to regularly. This is Carolyn, an otherwise extremely sane person, a nurse who delivers Sula’s baby in fact and lets her stay with her until she can make her own way. She is played with a kind of primordial strength by the brilliant Blaire Chandler, and it is her determined love that holds this play together, while everyone else seems lost in the painful patterns of their lives.
The staging of this play is intense, and it needs to be as we careen from the magical realism of dreams to babies that won’t cry and a building heading for gentrification full of people seemingly unable to move on. Andre Barron, the director, manages to conjure up a mystical force that propels these characters from one moment to the next, with no sure footings and little but their stubborn determination to survive.
It’s a wonderful ensemble piece, full of richly drawn characters and poignant and fascinating portraits of loss and love, and deep intimacy.
Each performance is as brilliant as the next, all feeding off each other, and filling up the stage as smoothly as the Haitian rhythms fill our ears invoking an ancient and compelling unease.
There is so much within this play that is difficult to explain. It’s a simple story littered with complicated people, who are so self-involved – and who of us is not? – that they cannot see the path to peace before them, choosing instead to take the long way home. But there in lies the better story I think.
I’m leaving out the parts that made me jump out of my seat a little, Sula’s nasty husband does follow her from Haiti, and that creates an interesting twist. But this play suffers in the reporting. You need to see it, you really, really do.
I am never even slightly disappointed in The Road Theatre, and “Little Children Dream of God” is another wonderful, strange and fascinating peek inside the lives of those we may never have the chance to meet…and that is well worth your time and your moola.
I highly recommend “Little Children Dream of God.” I can see why the playwright Jeff Augustin is held in such high regard, his characters are achingly beautiful and unforgettable.
Sula – Iaquita Ta’le
Carolyn – Blaire Chandler
Joel – Hari Williams
Manuel – Jonathon Nichols
Vishal – Jonathan Bangs
Madison – Lafarsha Rose
Toussaint and Man – Sedale Threatt Jr
The Road Theatre
10747 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, 91601
February 23 – April 15
Thursdays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm; Sundays at 7pm