Obatala; (King Of The White Cloth) Theatre of the Riverside Church
91 Claremont Avenue
212.870.6784, theriversidechurchny.org Through Sunday
Who needs daytime TV when you can indulge yourself in the soap opera of the gods? From earthshaking sibling rivalry to incestuous rape, whatever inquiring minds want to know they'll find in David D. Wright's fanciful Obatala (King of the White Cloth). Based on Yoruba creation legends from West Africa and Cuba, this lively and colorful, if conventional, theater work draws charm from choreographer Baraka de Soleil's pervasive movement design. The undersea kingdom of the orisha Olokun (Renauld White), brother of Obatala, is de Soleil's most convincing vision. Set against a projection of blue, undulating tides, the actors' bodies billow or turn on gently rolling footfalls. As they speak, their arms ripple just so, maintaining balance against imaginary currents. There are also memorable dramatic performances from Yaa Asantewa (Obatala's troubled wife, Yemmu, and no relation), Akintola Jiboyewa (Sango), Edwin Briscoe (tricksterish Elegba), and even Kirt A. Harding (wise Orunmila), who spends most of the time buried up to his waist.