Far From an Angel's Gaze

Set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, writer-director Jude Anchang's heavyweight drama highlights the plight of innocent victims in Central Africa's bloody civil strife. Laurent (Tejay Bah) is a young businessman obsessed with the rape of his wife, Philomene (Yetide Badaki), at the hands of insurgent terrorists. Ignoring the warning of his priest (Sadiq Abu), he vengefully commits a murder that provokes further threats to his fellow villagers. Meanwhile, the convalescing Philomene is being sought by her former suitor, Fabrice (Bambadjan Bamba), who is now an officer within the militia responsible for the rapes and other vicious atrocities. Overwritten, murky and/or chronologically confusing in places, the play nonetheless features strong passages, interesting characters and visceral themes. The action is executed in broad strokes, but Badaki is lovely and sympathetic as an intelligent woman struggling to maintain her dignity after a devastating act, and Bamba brings resonance to her haunted pursuer. Both Brandi Satterwhite, as an honorable police officer, and Robert Okumu, as the guerrillas' cruel commander, bring nuance to their roles. The production would be far more involving if Bah, a novice performer, had more range. Avery Schreiber Theatre, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 31. (323) 354-5159. A Sacred Drum Theatre Production.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 9. Continues through Jan. 31, 2009