The devastating clash between Western culture and religion and African tradition and spirituality is at the heart of this masterful new work. Director Emily Mann has mounted a production that’s as compelling as it is gorgeous.
Jennie Webb – Backstage
Brought to life by Emily Mann’s subtle direction, a splendid set by Daniel Ostling and a variety of astonishing performances, the play is compelling in spite of an unpersuasive, melodramatic finale.
Margaret Gray – LA Times
Like “A Doll’s House” and “Hedda Gabler,” “The Convert” is slow in the windup but ends up dealing a knockout blow as helmed by Emily Mann at the Kirk Douglas.
Bob Verini – Variety
Center Theatre Group, which co-commissioned The Convert, brings Gurira’s vision beautifully to life at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
Barnaby Hughes – Stage and Cinema
If you look for social significance, there is no doubt “The Convert” is a winner. It is hard not to generalize to current times. What will the Arab Spring bring in the end, for example? There is no question people were oppressed, but what next? If, on the other hand, you are drawn to the theater by character development, or a story arc that is unpredictable, you may be disappointed.
Karen Weinstein – Culture Vulture
A co-production between three leading national theater companies — our own Center Theatre Group, Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, and the Goodman in Chicago — “The Convert” is by turns very funny and impossibly heartbreaking, with a near-perfect cast directed by Emily Mann.
Lyle Zimskind – LAist
Tenderly directed by Emily Mann, the production features some glorious performances, which, alongside the author’s very witty treatment of language, carry the event.
Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly
Showcasing the breathtaking talents of its cast, “The Convert” is a powerful and poignant examination of identity, faith and blood—in both the physical and familial senses of the word.
Sara Itkis – Neon Tommy
With enough comic relief to allow you to catch your breath, the fascinating story revolves around Chilford – magnificently played by Leroy McClain, who plows into the deepest recesses of his character’s soul with mercurial transitions – and Jekesai – played by a most talented Pascale Armand and gives a devastatingly haunting performance, delving deeply into the multiple layers of her complex character, discovering every subtle nuance and sub-textual element of this most fascinating young girl. Her performance is flawless as are the performances by the rest of this commanding ensemble.
Beverly Cohn – Santa Monica Mirror
The Convert, at the Kirk Douglas, is a three-hour play that creates a world most of us have never seen on a stage. It’s deftly performed under the direction of Emily Mann. But it keeps going perhaps a half-hour too long — and that last half-hour is very problematic.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch
Gurira’s lengthy (three-hour, two-intermission) play explores the cultural and religious turmoil caused by British colonization in the region, but suffers from a great deal of expository and explanatory dialogue.
Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA
A traditional one-set play placed in an effective, distancing frame by designer Daniel Ostling, Gurira’s work benefits from the hand of director Emily Mann, who builds tension in an inexorable, swelling, sequence of causes and effects until its chilling end. Mann’s ensemble works tightly together, with memorable characterizations from Bruce as Mai Tamba and Armand as Ester, in particular. Ostling’s scenic realism, along with lighting by Lap-Chi Chu and Darron L West’s soundscape — not to mention the nifty period-perfect costumes from Paul Tazewell — highlights the emotional realism of this explosive tale.
Leigh Kennicott – Stagehappenings
The actresses portraying these characters undergo an emotional workout that is as harrowing as it is cathartic.
Ben Vanaman – OutWestArts
I am glad I had a chance to see this emotional, intriguing, and enlightening production.
Sage Ryan – The Front Page Online
Kirk Douglas Theatre
9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City
8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays
Ends May 19, 2012
Tickets: $20-$45; (213) 628-2772
Running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
About the Author: We don’t “review” shows here at the Lemon, rather we "review" reviews by gathering them from a variety of local review sites around the internet, judging them to be positive or negative, then forming an aggregate score that we call a LEMONMETER RATING, showing how well that show has been reviewed in total. For more detail on how the LemonMeter works visit here.