Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way

Review: 

Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse at the University of Toronto
performed by playwright Monique Mojica with elder/master performer Gloria Miguel
directed by José A. Colman with music by Marden Paniza
Closes: June 19th, 2011 


• Tickets are available for purchase through TO Tix online at totix.ca or at the booth.

Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milk Way traces the poetic and legendary journey of a woman back into the history of her people to find herself. A striking set design in black shot with bright colours adds to the fantastical edge created by the stories.

The piece unfolds in a thread of poetic storytelling, dance and song that weaves together the creation story of the Haudenosaunee people with a number of other legends and even flashes of "Western" culture like the recurring song Go Ask Alice by Jefferson Starship as sung by Monique.

The stories spin in and out of each other, with the voices of the performers sometimes in almost-unison, sometimes at odds with each other. Gloria Miguel sits in a kind of decorated raised dais at the back while Monique - her daughter - exhibits a boundless energy as the one moving part of this colourful scenario. She doesn't miss a step as the embodiment of the heart of each of each of the stories as they come up - the morning star, the narrator's namesake, as a kind of thread that runs through them all. 

Visually, it's a very appealing production, with the vibrant set, fabric and costume designs by Oswaldo DeLeon Kantule and Erika Iserhoff. The floor is painted in mesmerizing swirling patterns that are echoed in cloth hangings that decorate the set. The inventive design also includes a really nifty set of stage apparati that Monique swings on, climbs, hangs, spins and dangles from.

She's the morning star who falls to earth, and the woman named for the morning star who sees a path back up to the Milky Way of her ancestors. It's an inventive piece with a convincing emotional core - and it continues to June 19. As a bonus, there are several gorgeous paintings you can linger over on the way in or out of the theatre.

Photos of Monique Mojica by Tyler Pennock

Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way 
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse at the University of Toronto
Closes: June 19th, 2011
Performances: Tuesday-Saturday at 8 PM; Sunday at 2 PM
Tickets: $20; Student/Senior $10

• Tickets are available for purchase through TO Tix online at totix.ca or at the booth.
• Tickets may be reserved by calling 647-717-6129 or emailing wnanibush@gmail.com

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