EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
The following are excerpts from the February 9, 2014 MD Theatre Guide Review of Ruined by Lynne Menefee
Though Nottage was inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s anti-war play Mother Courage and Her Children, this drama is based on real accounts of the women she interviewed during several trips to the war-scarred Democratic Republic of Congo. What she discovered was the utter brutality of sexual and physical abuse suffered by these women at the hands of both sides and urgency to let the world know. Unfortunately, it continues to this day as a result of an ongoing battle for control over the Congo’s rich mineral resources. It is a sobering fact that one of those minerals, coltan, is a crucial element in the manufacturing of all those electronic devices we take for granted – mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
…this is an important story that needs to be told. Everyman’s production does justice to the material and the courage of all women caught in conflicts around the world.
At the heart of Ruined is Dawn Ursuala’s magnetic performance as Mama Nadi. She is a force of nature but not altogether likable. Her character is neither a saint nor savior but a survivor and businesswoman in a world ruled by brutal men. Like the saloons of the old American West, the soldiers must give up their bullets when they come into her saloon. This is her domain and she is funny and fierce, tough as nails – a wheeler-dealer who appears to takes no sides. She only wants to take their money. Any kind of warmth would be letting her guard down but the cracks do appear. Mama Nadi has her own story.
It’s hard to believe that any kind of joy could be found in this situation. However Nottage’s script – with expert direction from internationally acclaimed director, Tazewell Thompson in his Everyman debut – balances the brutality with hope and humor that honors the resilience and strength of these women. A surprisingly tender and satisfying ending brought the audience to its feet.
The production team, as always, does an incredible job bringing the setting to life. Scenic designer Brandon McNeel has created a colorful and visually engaging set constructed from old doors, discarded tin, and mismatched chairs and tables while David Burdick costumes reflect a complementary mix of soldier fatigues, modern dress and the bright colors and vibrant patterns of African fabrics. Both lighting design by Stephen Quandt and sound design by Fabian Obispo give a great impact to the plot.
This is not a play for everyone. It can be very difficult to watch but this is an important story that needs to be told. Everyman’s production does justice to the material and the courage of all women caught in conflicts around the world.