We finally got out into snow covered Washington Sunday afternoon to see the matinee performance of Tarell McCraney’s “In Red and Brown Water”, the first of the trilogy of plays which include “The Brothers Size”, which we saw two years ago.
McCraney is a phenomenal playwright, and “In Red and Brown Water” well worth seeing. You are in rural Louisiana, although you don’t know that directly, and the focus is on Oya, young, athletic, trapped by circumstance, and rapidly defeated by her environment. Her mother dies, she is attracted to seemingly the wrong man (Shango) and, when he joins the military and leaves town, she partners with another young man (Ogun Size), one who was bullied as a youth because of his stuttering but who is stable, employed and devoted. Of course, when her first love returns from war, her live-in boyfriend does not stand a chance. In the meantime, there is a young boy, whose life revolves around more chocolate than he can afford, but who grows and becomes a father at 16, but who is bisexual, much to the surprise and dismay of Oya, his childhood friend. Things do not turn out well for Oya, we don’t know what will happen to Shango, but Ogun Size will go on to star in the next part of the trilogy.
Environment affects what one can and cannot do, and Oya makes a series of decisions, each of which at the time might be the better decision or, more to the point, the right decision. This is true from the very first, where she turns down a potential track scholarship in order to stay with her ailing mother. But each of these good decision add up to trap her where she is, and eventually it is too late, for internal and external reasons, for Oya to save herself.
An extraordinary cast at the Studio Theatre, led by Raushanah Simmons as Oya, Yaegel Welch as Shango, and Jahi Kearse as Ogun Size.