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Boesman and Lena
Boesman and Lena is playing at the Signature Theatre located 480 West 42nd Street. It runs one hour forty minutes with no intermission. The play closes on March 17, 2019.
Athol Fugard is the playwright. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 1975 for Sizwe Banzi is Dead/ The Island. Athol won a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. Boesman and Lena won an Obie Award in 1971 for Best Foreign Play.
Sahr Ngaujah was nominated for a Tony Award in 2008 for Fela! The Musical.
The place is the mud flats of the river Swartkops, South Africa.
Lena (Zainab Jah) is following her husband Boesman (Sahr Ngaujah). They have all their possessions with them. Lena is about to collapse when Boesman stops. It seems where they lived their shack and others were torn down by the white owner of the land. Lena remembers that they lived on the spot they are on now. Boesman collected worms to sell to the white fisherman.
We learn Boeman is both physically and verbally abusive to Lena. He is setting up a tent with wood he has found. Lena is setting up a pot to make hot water. While doing so she spots an Old African (Thomas Silcott). She invites him to sit down, against Boesman’s orders.
Maybe she feels safe with him there. When Boesman leaves she tells him she had two stillborn children and one that lived for six months. Lena tells him more about her life.
When Boesman comes back she sits next to The African and wraps a blanket around them. He talks from time to time in African. She is more relaxed around him, singing and dancing. Of course Boesman is not there.
Lena doesn’t realize the Old African has died. Boesman pushed him off the crate and he doesn’t respond.
Boesman does something to him that forces them to leave.
This is a very emotional play. It is well done. The one thing is it a little too long.
Zainab Jah will blow you away, she was so good. Sahr Ngaujah is so impressive you would love to slap him in the face for how he acts toward Lena.
We never get to see Thomas Silcott face, it’s covered with a hat.
There is a piece of large plastic hiding the stage. When Boesman goes by in the beginning he pulls it down and takes it with him. The stage is bare except for a dead tree and a lot of dirt.
Review by Rozana Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for photos. Click on photos for this and other shows.