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  • Theater, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Forever: Theater review by David Cote

If you were to ask writer-performer Dael Orlandersmith about her parents, the answer might vary. There’s the factual record: the abusive, alcoholic ex-dancer/ex-prostitute who left the artist emotionally scarred. Then there’s spiritual parentage: Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Richard Wright, Edith Piaf—she claims lineage from them all. Blood and fantasy combine in potent, wrenching ways in Forever, which a note in the program provocatively identifies as a blend of “fact and fiction.”

Given the stark horror in some of the material—Orlandersmith’s teenage rape by a home invader—one wonders what is autobiography and what is poetic license. Not that it would lessen the impact of this primal story of maternal-filial hatred, overcoming trauma and reinventing the self. Those allergic to poetic survivor solos might wonder if we need another yarn of escape and empowerment, but Orlandersmith’s cutting language and cool, patient delivery hold your attention. Forever begins and ends in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery, and it reminds us that while corpses moulder in graveyards, fresh blossoms sprout there too.—David Cote

New York Theatre Workshop (Off Broadway). Written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith. Directed by Neel Keller. Running time: 1hr 20mins. No intermission.

Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote


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