Theater

South African memories: Vivier
photo: R. Richards
South African memories: Vivier

Details

Oranges Like The Sun
By Judylee Vivier
78th Street Theatre Lab
236 West 78th Street
212-868-4444
 Oranges Like the Sun, Judylee Vivier's vibrant one-woman show about the coming of age of a white South African, is as "sweet and tart" as the play's eponymous fruit. Vivier, a likable and energetic presence, takes us on a headlong journey through her past, stopping along the way to show us her schoolgirl crushes, her peripheral involvement in the Soweto riots, and her adoring parents who nonetheless express doubt when she tells them she wants to study drama in New York. Part Two contains some wonderfully vivid moments: Judy's astonished arrival in the "City of extremes! City of dreams!"; her brief stint as an evening receptionist for an escort service; her gradual grafting of "flat American intonations" onto her plummy native vowels; her drama-school escapades and eventual happiness as an actress and teacher of acting. Vivier's understandably passionate connection to her story is a double-edged sword: Perhaps if she allowed herself more distance, cutting charming but incidental narratives, she'd gain focus and direction. The play also suffers occasionally from a slight choppiness, scene following scene with no transitional glue. But overall, it's a delight: Like the oranges in a basket that we're invited to eat before the performance, Oranges is a delicious pleasure, even though the luscious fruit crumbles easily when we pick it apart.
 
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