Reviewed by Judy Richter
Carefully directed by Jon Tracy in its West Coast premiere, this Aurora Theatre Company production features two esteemed Bay Area actors. L. Peter Callender plays Mugabe, and Dan Hiatt is the psychiatrist, Dr. Andrew Peric.
Before the two meet, however, Andrew confronts the possibly dangerous presidential bodyguard Gabriel (Adrian Roberts) and the elegant Grace Mugabe (Leontyne Mbele-Mbong), who is 40 years younger than her husband.
When Robert and Andrew finally meet, it becomes clear that despite Andrew's best efforts to keep things on a professional level, Robert wants to do things his way. Add Grace and Gabriel to the mix, and what you have is a four-way power struggle amid a heavy dose of Zimbabwe's troubled history.
As the play progresses, it's revealed that Andrew owns and has deep feelings for a tobacco farm that his been in his family for at least two prior generations. It has been taken over by Zimbabwe war veterans who want to reclaim land that they contend was taken from their ancestors by white colonialists.
This issue leads to the play's wrenching conclusion.
Most of the action takes place in the State House (the simple but elegant set by Nina Ball is lit by Heather Basarab). Scenes are separated by videos designed by Micah Stieglitz with sound by Hannah Birch Carl. Costumes by Callie Floor are noteworthy for Grace's elegant outfits.
Running about 100 minutes with no intermission, the 2005 play has some slow spots because of the background presented in a dialect that's not always easy to understand. Still it's an interesting look at recent history, and it features outstanding performances by all four actors.
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