The Bluest Eye

By Rosalind Friedman

Toni Morrison, who earned a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994, won great acclaim for her 1980 novel,
"The Bluest Eye." Now it has been Adapted into a play by Lydia Diamond, and is co-produced by the
Hartford Stage, where it just finished a run, and Long Wharf Theatre, where it will run through April

This story that should be touching, but is not, revolves around a young girl, Pecola Breedlove, acted
with grace by Adepero Oduye; coming of age in the 1940's, Pecola wants desperately to disappear
and return with blue eyes, so she can be as pretty as Shirley Temple and accepted by both her
colored and white friends. Her mother, handsomely depicted by Oni Faida Lampley, comes from
poverty; described as peculiar and ugly, she marries Cholly, a man whom she thinks is charming.
Leon Addsion Brown does a good turn here as Cholly, an alcoholic. The Breedloves fight like dogs,
and he burns down the house. That's all before he rapes his daughter, impregnates her, and causes
her to go mad.

Although there are some lovely and funny moments and lovely language during the one and half
hours of The Bluest Eye, directed by Eric Ting, there is also some confusion. The action moves back
and forth among hanging white bed sheets, designed by Scott Bradley, lit evocatively by Russell H.
Champa. Those sheets hide and reveal each of the scenes, and sometimes we just don't know
where we are in the time-line. A Greek-type chorus, singing hymn-like blues pieces composed by
Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen, is employed effectively.

Bobbi Baker is bright and fine as the young strong-willed narrator, Claudia. Ronica V. Reddick is her
spirited sister, Frieda/Darlene. Miche Braden is a full-hearted Mama, ordering her children to take
their castor oil and don't ask any questions. As Soaphead Church and later as Daddy, Ellis Foster
has an odd speech pattern that was difficult to follow.

The Bluest Eye, a good effort, needs some clarification to be a successful piece.
This review originally aired on WMNR Fine Arts Radio.

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