Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Boston

Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act
New Repertory Theatre
Review by Sarah Parro

Michael Ofori and Eve Kagan
Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures
Continuing its "Statements of Survival" series, New Repertory Theatre presents Athol Fugard's Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, directed by New Rep Artistic Director Jim Petosa.

Statements After An Arrest unfolds in real time through conversation, and alternating monologues, between lovers in South Africa during apartheid. The white woman and black man must meet in secret for fear of being arrested under the Immorality Act, variants of which were in place in South Africa from 1927 to 1985 (though prohibition of sexual relationships between whites and blacks dates back to 1685).

Playwright Athol Fugard was born in South Africa in 1932 to parents of English/Irish and Dutch descent; his moral outrage at the injustices of apartheid fueled his writing, and he and his family suffered government surveillance and harassment—for several years, his passport was confiscated in an attempt to prevent him from producing his work in other countries.

In Statements After An Arrest, Fugard's writing oscillates between soft, lingering moments and tense, emotional outbursts as the characters grapple with the danger and unrest of both their personal situation and their country as a whole. The black man must walk between the segregated neighborhoods to meet the white woman, hiding in ditches to avoid being seen by passersby and suspicious neighbors; strained on another level, the region is also in the midst of a drought. The play begins just after an evening tryst; both actors are completely nude throughout the performance.

Eve Kagan (credited as A White Woman) performs with graceful physicality and earnest emotion. When not speaking, she remains completely present onstage, listening to and watching her acting partner intently, always a clear picture of a woman with deep and complex feeling interlaced with fear and doubt. Kagan is able to be playful and tender in one moment and distraught and broken in another. She previously appeared in New Rep's Rent, Passing Strange, and The Scarlet Letter and has performed with Greater Boston Stage Company, Foothills Theatre, productions in California and New York, and has numerous film and television credits.

Michael Ofori (credited as A Colored Man) is equally powerful in his role, navigating through sensitivity, desire, shame and pride, validating everything his character feels with a moving performance. This is Ofori's New Rep debut. His previous credits include directing The Prison Graduate and Sizwe Bansi is Dead (Ohio University), and assistant directing By the Bog of Cats and acting in Much Ado About Nothing (Boston University). Originally from the Ashanti Region of Ghana, he is currently a theatre education graduate student at Boston University. Appearing as a policeman near the end of the play is Tim Spears (Good, The Elephant Man, Amadeus, Mister Roberts with New Rep, as well as credits with SpeakEasy Stage Company, Boston Center for American Performance, Boston Playwrights' Theatre, and New York credits).

Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, through March 3, 2018, in the black box theater at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown MA. Tickets are available at the New Rep Box Office, 617-923-8487, or online at Statements After An Arrest will be performed in repertory with Lonely Planet by Steven Dietz as part of New Rep's "Statements of Survival" series.