World Stages: International Theater Festival ‘Solomon and Marion’ at The Kennedy Center

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The World Stages: International Theater Festival takes the center stage at The Kennedy Center, March 10-30, 2014 bringing together some of today’s most exciting theatrical visionaries presenting an unprecedented focus on theatre from around the globe. Twenty-two theatrical offerings from nineteen countries, and every continent except Antarctica, are represented in this theater Festival of dynamic stories examining contemporary issues and universal themes. Curated by Alicia Adams, Vice President, International Programming, thirteen fully staged productions will be featured including nine U.S. premieres, as well as four theater-focused installations, panel discussions, two staged readings, and two Directors forums.

The delights in this extraordinary assembling of theatrical treasures comprise World Stages: International Theater Festival 2014 – The Kennedy Center’s first theater-focused international festival!

Truth and Reconciliation – Review: Solomon and Marion

Janet Suzman and Khayalethu Anthony.  Photo by Ruohin Coudyzer.
Janet Suzman and Khayalethu Anthony. Photo by Ruohin Coudyzer.

In the shadow of farmland reclamation and the “new” South Africa, Solomon and Marion is a stirring, reconciliatory message of two injured souls in search of redemption in a fragile, post apartheid South Africa. The U.S. Premiere of Baxter Theatre Centre’s presentation of Solomon and Marion is on stage in the Terrace Theatre at The Kennedy Center as part of the dynamic World Stages: International Theatre Festival.

In Solomon and Marion, playwright and director, Laura Foot explores the cruelty of the meaningless murders that betray her country. The intimate, award-winning play is inspired by a 2006 true story and the role of Marion was written specifically for Academy Award and Olivier nominee Dame Janet Suzman.

The clever, smartly written story by Foot, the Baxter Theatre Centre’s CEO and artistic director (Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Baxter brought the unforgettable and devastating Mies Julie last year to The Shakespeare Theatre Company), is infused with dialogue that is raw with emotion, and displays a rarely seen understanding of the delicate human condition.

The authenticity of the dialogue reveals itself in the silent pauses, small gestures, and subtle nuances that take place within a scene. The brilliant finesse of acting and this beautifully crafted, deeply moving production is without question the one of the 2014 World Stages Theatre Festival performances that will long stay with me.

Janet Suzman plays a brusque, lonely, aging English-South African whose isolation has become her last stand of independence and identity. Marion is alone by choice. Divorced, she talks out loud to herself for conversation, and has a daughter and two grandchildren who live in Australia, but she refuses to leave her home in the South African outback. She’s struggling to survive in her rapidly changing country. But it’s hers, and it’s the only home she has.

Marion’s dry wit has created a protective wall of denial but her growing depression can’t erase the heartache and painful memories of her past and the familial estrangement of her present. She has lost all passion for life. Within the silence and the solitude, Marion waits.

Then, there is the intruder . . . who she has been expecting (needing) to take her miseries away…

One could say Marion is being stalked by the twenty-year-old Solomon, the grandson of a former employee that used to clean for her. But little does she realize the watchful, protective intention of the young man who has kept a secret eye on her for years.

An atrocity that happens seven years ago haunts both Marion and Solomon.

When the two complex characters are finally confronted with one another, there is a surprising, uneasy solace. Although cultural, racial, and generational distinctions exist they start to find similarities that overpower the differences.

It is Solomon’s broken yet indomitable spirit that propels the life and energy of not only Marion’s character but the entire production. In his first professional theatre appearance, the loose Khayalethu Anthony is a burst of sunshine and a refreshing drink of goodness on a hot South African day. He is sensational in the role of Solomon and the formidable talent of his refreshing portayal pairs quite comfortably on stage with the undiminished power of film and stage veteran, Suzman. There is a profound gentleness with their relationship and their chemistry is undeniable.

Bad things happen to good people. Sometimes we never learn why. But what if we do?

Violence, loss and forgiveness, family and friendship, grief and new beginnings are themes Foote handles with tender humor, grace, and deft skill. Watching Solomon and Marion’s unlikely friendship blossom will challenge theatregoers’ views on tolerance, and the embrace of transformation by both characters is a life lesson for us all.

Janet Suzman and Khayalethu Anthony. Photo by . Photo by by Ruohin Coudyzer.
Janet Suzman and Khayalethu Anthony. Photo by Ruohin Coudyzer.

Solomon and Marion is an illuminating production that is both both heartbreaking and heartwarming, but whose optimistic ending will leave audiences taking a second look at the hope and possibilities of the unlikeliest circumstances. Let the long, standing ovations of this fine production continue to roar.

In English. Recommended for mature audiences.

Running Time: 80 minutes, with no intermission.

Solomon and Marian played March 27 – 30, 2014 in the Eisenhower Theater at The Kennedy Center  – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC.  For tickets to future events and performances, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online.

LINK:

Read Sydney-Chanele Dawkins’ reviews of shows in the World Stages: International Theater Festival:

The Suit.
Rupert.
Tapioca Inn: Incendios.
Harmsaga.
Death & the Maiden (La Muerte y La Doncella). 
Savannah Bay.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Penny Plain.
Not by Bread Alone.
Green Snake.
Solomon and Marion.World Stages Festival YouTube Channel.

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Sydney-Chanele Dawkins
Sydney-Chanele Dawkins is an award-winning feature filmmaker, film curator, film festival producer and a theater/film critic and arts writer. She also serves as an impassioned advocate for the Arts as Chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts in Alexandria, VA. Fearless. Tenacious. Passionate. Loyal. These characteristics best describe Sydney-Chanele's approach to life, her enthusiasm for live theater and the arts, and her cinephile obsession with world cinema. Her successful first film, 'Modern Love is Automatic' premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and made its European debut at the Edinburgh Film Festival. She recently completed her third film, the animated - 'The Wonderful Woes of Marsh' - which is rounding the film festival circuit. In 2013, Sydney-Chanele produced the box office hit,Neil Simon's Rumors for the McLean Community Players at Alden Theater, Her next producing effort in 2014 is Pearl Cleage's 'Blues for an Alabama Sky' for Port City Playhouse. Programmer for Cinema Art Bethesda and Co Chair of the Film Program for Artomatic, Sydney-Chanele is the past Festival Director of the Alexandria Film Festival, the Reel Independent Film Festival,and Female Shorts & Video Showcase. She is active in leadership and programming positions with DC Metro area Film Festivals including: Filmfest DC, DC Shorts, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, Arabian Sights Film festival, and AFI Docs. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions - sydneychanele@gmail.com [Note: Sydney-Chanele Dawkins passed away on July 8, 2015, at age 47, after a battle with Breast Cancer.]