MIRACLE IN RWANDA

I can’t imagine viewing writer-performer Leslie Lewis Sword’s play about surviving the Rwandan genocide without a sense of horror, awe and grief. Co-created and directed by Edward Vilga, it dramatizes the experience of Immaculée Illibagiza, who escaped death by hiding in a 4 foot by 3 foot bathroom with up to seven other women for 91 days. (In 1994, nearly 1 million people, mostly Tutsis, were brutally murdered by their fellow countrymen over three months.) Sword plays all the participants in Illibagiza’s ordeal: among them her father, who, with terrible prescience, dispatched her into hiding; the courageous, elderly pastor who concealed her; her crazed pursuer; and the apparitions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, which comforted her during her tortuous days of confinement. Such is Sword’s skill that with a mere curve of the lip or shift of the eyes, she seems to transform from one character to another. Above all it is the translucent eloquence she imbues in her main character — heightened by Erick Keil’s artful lighting — that gives the piece its compelling strength. The play’s overarching theme is forgiveness, which Illibagiza eventually comes to realize through prayer. Though the piece’s religious overtones may not be to everyone’s taste, its depiction of the unimaginable — in tandem with Illibagiza’s spiritual triumph and enduring will to live — transcends any parochial view.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Sept. 5. Continues through Sept. 28, 2008