Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


All Aunt Hagar's Children
Word for Word Performing Arts Company
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Wayman's interview with Jeffrey Brian Adams and Monique Hafen of She Loves Me and Richard's reviews of Rapture, Blister, Burn, Entanglement, Absolutely Fabulous, and Cirque du Soleil's Luzia


Kehinde Koyejo, Jia Taylor, Khary L. Moye,
Sheila Balter, and Margo Hall

Photo by Julie Schuchard
Word for Word and Z Space are presenting a sterling production of Edward P. Jones's All Aunt Hagar's Children. Word for Word Performing Arts Company is a one of a kind ensemble whose mission is to tell great stories with elegant theatricality, staging performances of classics and contemporary fiction.

The company has not changed a word of Edward P. Jones's story as it originally appeared in the New Yorker in 2003 and then in a collection of his short stories in 2006. This story is filled with well-rounded characters. There is a mix of the real and supernatural as grandparents struggle to raise grandkids.

Set in 1950s Washington D.C., a young Korean War vet (Khary L. Moye) narrates a noir story. He has recently returned from the war and plans to travel up to Alaska and strike gold. He is currently a private detective who had a bizarre incident involving a Jewish woman who basically died in his arms mumbling a mysterious Yiddish phrase with her final breath. The narrator is closed in by anxiety and prejudice on both sides, black and white. The surprise ending speaks of violence and shame.

Edward P. Jones catches the pulse of a neighborhood in a big urban community and creates a superb, indelible picture. This is a mystery that is elusive, evocative, and filled with dry humor. Clues, questions, and family secrets surface throughout, intertwining and dissembling. He crosses paths with some astonishingly thought-provoking women in this 100-minute no intermission drama. He is frequently being taken over by the women he meets, many of whom are close family members and others he barely knows.

Director Stephanie Hunt, working with co-director Margo Hall, impressively directs this drama and they have assembled a stunning cast to perform it. Khary L. Moye is outstanding as the narrator. He is appealing in the character's valuation of his life and surroundings and being mystified by the same. Velina Brown rocks as his mother, a firm, sharp-tongue woman with a wonderful love for her children. Margo Hall, who plays many roles, is terrific, particularly as Aunt Penny; and Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe is the same as Miss Agatha. Sheila Balter plays both the Jewish woman and the woman who connects him to the dead woman's final words. She is impressive in both roles. Kehinde Koyejo, Joel Mullennix, and Jim Taylor are first rate in various roles.

Set designer Sean Riley has created an arresting image of brick buildings in a Washington D.C. neighborhood.

Bottom line: All Aunt Hagar's Children is an outstanding drama with humor and an outstanding cast.

All Aunt's Hagar's Children continues through December 11, 2016, at Z Space, 450 Florida St, San Francisco. Call 866-811-4111 for tickets or visit www.zspace.org/.


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