The Shadow of the Hummingbird - Touching and Thought-Provoking

By Karen Isaacs

Athol Fugard, whose new play is getting its world premier at Long Wharf's Stage II, is one of the select group of writers whose name is mentioned in connection with the Nobel Prize for Literature.

New Haven has been blessed to see many of his plays -- often world premieres -- at both Long Wharf and the Yale Rep.

The Shadow of the Hummingbird is another world premiere. It is a sweet, gentle and philosophical piece, in keeping with the author who is now in his 80s.  It is a looking back, a yearning to recapture the innocence of youth, and making a connection with a future generation.

In  thought provoking 60 minutes, Oupa -- the Africaan word for grandfather -- ruminates on life and shares time with his young grandson.

What happens? There isn't a lot of action but we learn SO much -- a sense of wonder at nature, the beauty of human interaction and the power of love.

The introductory scene, written by Paula Fourie, has Oupa -- played marvelously by Fugard himself, in his home, looking through his journals and reading excerpts. It sets the scene.

Then his grandson enters -- obviously the joy of his daily existence -- and the two talk -- about school, Oupa's son, the boy's father -- bird and Plato's The Republic.

I never found Plato so intriguing.

Gordon Edelstein has directed this piece with gentleness, love and care it deserves. Joining Fugard in creating the magical relationship grandfather and grandson are two twin brothers, Aiden and Dermot McMillan. I have no idea which one I saw, but he was excellent.

Kudos must also be given to set designer Eugene Lee and light designer Michael Chybowksi for their excellent work.

This thought provoking, The Shadow of the Hummingbird runs through April 27. Go see it.

This review aired on WNHU 88.7 fm and www.wnhu.net


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