Black Mothers Don’t Say I Love You – CrossCurrents

By Megan Mooney


CrossCurrents, which plays at Factory Theatre, gives an audience an opportunity to glimpse what they rarely – the process of building a play.  I love having that opportunity. 

Obviously it doesn’t take too much to get me excited about theatre, but CrossCurrents gets me *very* excited about theatre.  But I should get onto the specific show, perhaps I’ll find some time during a baby-nap to write about CrossCurrents later.

Now let me talk about my experience with trey anthony’s Black Mothers Don’t Say I Love You.

As will all CrossCurrents pieces, this is a staged reading of the a play in progress.  It is a snapshot of a stage in the process.  The audience not only gets to see it, but also influences the future development of the show through their reactions and energy. 

It’s not a slick polished production, there were no lighting cues, no sound design, no suggestive costumes – only people on stage reading from scripts.  Stage directions were provided by Iris Turcott (the dramaturge who worked with anthony on this piece).  In fact, in the case of Black Mothers Don’t Say I Love You, the actors got the script a scant few hours before the performance.

All of this means that the script is the focus.  The words on the page have to carry the show.  I can imagine that might be a bit intimidating for a writer, but anthony’s dialogue shines. 

The picture the actors paint with her words comes across clear as day.  No suggestive lighting, sound or sets are needed.  Just a natural interaction between mother and daughters.

All of this talk of scripts is not at all to discount the performance of the actors though.  Certainly it is possible to cloud the words of a script with a wooden reading, these women all performed beautifully.  The words felt natural coming from their mouths.  As the actors pointed out in the talk-back, this was helped by the conversational style of anthony’s writing, but that can take you only so far.

While all the women were excellent, I have to admit, I kind of fell in love with Ngozi Paul in the role of Claudette.  I want to see her on stage again and again.  I was excited to hear that it sounds like this casting is going to stick when this show goes on to be fully produced.

Since CrossCurrents is just one reading per script, you won’t get the chance to see this particular version again, but when you see it being produced I recommend you check it out. 

And, since you don’t want to miss out on other great stuff, I recommend you get yourself out to CrossCurrents this week to check out some of the great stuff going on.  The festival runs until May 10, 2009 and tickets are all PWYC.  For more information on showtimes and shows playing check out the website.