Theater archives

Roadkill Places Its Audience in Perilous Proximity to its Violations


Are you sitting comfortably? Then you are not attending Cora Bissett’s Roadkill, a site-specific screed against human trafficking produced by St. Ann’s Warehouse, in which attendees share a minibus bound for a Clinton Hill rowhouse with an excitable teen, Adeola (Mercy Ojelade), fresh from Nigeria, and her blasé companion Martha (Adura Onashile). Adeola engages the passengers, eliciting information about tourist sites and local idioms (one spectator suggests, “What’s up?”, and Adeola happily dots her speech with the phrase). Though Adeola believes she has arrived in the U.S. for school and work, Martha soon secures her passport and leaves her to the attentions of a pimp, Djall (John Kazek). Without papers, friends, or even her name (which Martha alters to Mary), Adeola succumbs to a life of sexual slavery.

A graphic and disturbing show, Roadkill places the audience in perilous proximity to Adeola’s violations. Bissett plays a little unfairly as the piece both implicates us for not coming to Adeola’s assistance and also deliberately restricts any real participation. The script is brutal and justifiably unnuanced—the sexual exploitation of children doesn’t allow for fine distinctions. Back on the bus, some participants seemed visibly shaken, Roadkill‘s collateral damage.