Friday, October 17, 2003

Dream on Monkey Mountain, the lyrical epic by the Trinidadian Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, is an eclectic work, a layered narrative laden with historical, folkloric and literary allusions that, as the title suggests, maintains the tenuous logic and adventurous imagination of dreams....

Over all, it is difficult to parse, for audiences as well as directors and performers, a likely reason it is rarely produced even while being considered by some to be Mr. Walcott's masterpiece.

All of which makes Dream on Monkey Mountain natural fare for that giant-killer of a company, the Classical Theater of Harlem....

If the company has a signature in performance, it is an electricity that pulses through each and every production, the kind of palpable sizzle that comes from glee and gall. With occasional exceptions in starring roles--in this case André De Shields as Makak and Kim Sullivan as his Sancho-like sidekick, Moustique--the actors the company employs are generally at the beginning of their careers, but the lack of experience is never stifling. And in Dream on Monkey Mountain, each and every member of the ensemble, which is full of athletic, stirringly attractive men and women, is equipped with nerve and energy.

-- From Bruce Weber's review of the current off-Broadway production of Walcott's play, published earlier this week in the NY Times.

(Note to Times fact-checkers: Walcott's passport has "St. Lucia" stamped on its cover.)

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