I had the honor of being in the first audience to ever enjoy Charles Randolf-Wright’s new play “The Night is a Child” this week at the Rep’s Quadracci Powerhouse Theater. The energy and feeling in the room for this final tech rehearsal was amazing, and it was fun to witness the interaction of playwright, tech crew and actors in the final stages of the “birthing process” of this amazing play.
The play was successful in portraying a mix of cultural viewpoints and what transpires as people different life experiences come together. The Brazilian setting of much of the play gave me leverage in convincing my husband to join me, as he felt he may be able to relate to it given his Latino heritage. Indeed, the play was filled with ample spatterings of Portuguese, which enriched the experience for both of us.
The play overflowed with dance, music and the mysterious workings of the devotees of Candomblé (a religion based on African traditions similar to Voodoo), providing a much-needed exotic escape from a cold Milwaukee day.
That said, the major theme of the play was that we cannot escape from the sadness and pain of life no matter how far we go, how much we drink or how hard we try to explain it away. Logic cannot account for everything, despite our strong desire for it to be so. But we can get through it. At some point we have to let go.
The play challenges stereotypes, is thought provoking and addresses difficult issues which have become the reality of our day. It is timely, relevant and accomplishes its direction in an artistically rich way.
The setting alternated, perhaps a bit too readily at times, between Boston and the aforementioned Brazil. A well-chosen closing song integrated the locations nicely with a hip-hop overlay on a Brazilian melody.
Jessica Laub was born in Milwaukee in the spring of 1970, thereafter spending her childhood days enjoying the summers on the shores of Lake Michigan and winters at the toboggan chute in Brown Deer Park.
Alas, she moved away to broaden her horizons, and studied out East for a few years at Syracuse University. After a semester "abroad" at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, she graduated with a B.A. in English and advertising.
After college, she worked at Glacier National Park, a ski hill in Steamboat, Col. and organic farms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California.
In 1995, Laub moved to Nicaragua where she worked on community gardens, reforestation and environmental education as a Peace Corps volunteer. While there, she learned to speak Spanish, pay attention to world politics and how to make tortillas.
Laub then returned to Milwaukee to join the ranks of the non-profit sector. Currently, she works at the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) and keeps busy by painting, throwing pots, reading, trying to understand her two-year old son, seeing performances and howling at the moon.