Raven Dauda performs her new one-woman show Addicted in Toronto
Addicted, a new one-woman show produced by ADEDO Collective with The Watah Theatre is a confessional and spiritual exploration of intergenerational substance abuse stemming from colonial trauma that straddles the line between realism and surrealism. The use of mime, physical comedy, wry humour, storytelling and puppetry created a united whole that cuts a little too close to the bone emotionally.
The tour de force one hander, from script to sets to puppeteering is the brain child of Raven Dauda, with direction and dramaturgy by d’bi.young anitafrica. The show is mounted black box theatre style, with seating in an elevated square around the performance space. A solitary bronzed tree, adorned with greenery and fabric was a highly evocative disruption to the black box effect. Dauda portrays a total of nine different characters with five different accents. They all have distinct personalities and histories and I was never once confused about who was who.
I had the opportunity to speak with Raven Dauda after the show and asked whether the stage directions in the published version of the play will specify that it be a one-hander. While she obviously has no control over what an artistic director decides to do, her vision of the play’s performance tradition is that it be mounted as a one-woman show.
This is undoubtedly a tall order for another performer who is not as deeply connected to the work, especially if they do not have access to the Anitafrica method. Dauda credits the method, and the personal introspection it requires as central to the creative process, for the inspiration to create the piece and the sophisticated character development that flowed from there.
The plot is set into motion when the character Penelope, a woman who can drink Wray and Nephews overproof Jamaican rum (63% alcohol) straight from the bottle, checks into rehab. Through the generations, her family has been haunted by a duppy that whispers in their ears, driving them to vice. Penelope wants to find a way to break the duppy’s power over her family.
Penelope’s rehab journey is interwoven with the telling of a family legend about the sacking of a village in Sierra Leone and the capture, rape and revenge of its princess Nichua. While the story comes from Dauda’s fertile imagination, it also mirrors tales of colonization and ethnic cleansing that are familiar the world over. While tackling this hefty subject matter, the play manages to be beautiful and laugh out loud funny without distracting from the substance.
Addicted’s resolution explores the tensions between Western medical recovery and African spiritual healing practices, finding a beautiful equilibrium.
All in all this was a seamless and stunning presentation. Raven Dauda is a force to be reckoned with and in my opinion, one of the most dynamic and compelling performers you will see in Toronto right now. I laughed, I cried, I reflected. See it and tell your friends to see it.
- Addicted is playing until April 21, 2018 in Aki Studio (250-585 Dundas Street East, Toronto, ON)
- Show times are 7:30 PM on April 14, 16-21, with an additional matinee at 2 PM on April 21.
- Ticket prices range from $25 (Students, Seniors, Arts Workers) to $30 (General Admission), with a pay-what-you-can performance on April 16.
- Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-531-1402 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org