Originally posted on DC Metro Theater Arts
Queens Girl in The World & Queens Girl In Africa
Writer: Caleen Sinnette Jennings
Director: Paige Hernandez
Performed by: Dawn Ursula – Summer of 1962, Queens, NY & Erika Rose – Mid 60s, Nigeria Africa
Set Design: Paige Hathaway
Lighting Design: Nancy Schertler
Costume Design: Ivania Stack
Projection Design: Sarah Tundermann
Sound Design: David Lamont Wilson
Dialects: Kim James Bey
Dramaturgy: Robyn Quick
Props Master: Jillian Mathews
Stage Management: Amanda M. Hall & Cat Wallis
The mark of good theatre, of a truly transformative piece, is how universal it is. How much it speaks to the then and the now. The Queens Girl Repertory by Caleen Sinnette Jennings is one of those pieces.
Directed, smartly and with an openness that is absolutely integral to telling this story by Paige Hernandez, part one: Queens Girl in The World (originally premiering in 2015), follows the emotional, physical and social awakening of Jacqueline Marie Butler during the turbulent societal upheaval of the 1960s. To give away the plot would be a disservice so suffice to say, Jacqueline Marie goes through a lot of changes.
Dawn Ursula gives a tour de force performance as she channels not one, not two, but over five different characters to show you the inner and outer life of Jacqueline Marie. Bringing a deft comedic touch and brutal honesty to a host of topics: from code switching, to puberty, to realizing what your race means – to others and yourself – Ursula fully commits to every moment of each character’s inner life, often switching from character to character in the same scene.
The production is outstanding, with Paige Hathaway and Ivania Stack, deserving of special notice for the level of detail that they pay to the set and clothing choices. Hathaway’s Queens, NY is familiar to anyone who’s lived there, from the street lamps to the stoop while Stack’s little touches – stockings! – truly enhances the overall story and the performance that Ursula gives.
Overall this performance was a delight and I look forward to seeing what Erika Rose does with the role as we follow Jacqueline Marie’s journey to Nigeria in Queens Girl in Africa next week. In a brilliant move Everyman Theatre will be alternating Parts One and Two every week for the months of May and June as well as premiering Part Three: Queens Girl In The Green Mountains in March of 2020 as part of their New Voices Festival.
I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Five Nancy Drew Mysteries out of Five