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Willow Song - One4Review

The Old Dominion University Theatre from Norfolk Virginia have come a long way. A long way from America and a long way from the event in 2002 which shattered the lives of everyone involved in this production  from the five performers Amber Sarapata, Denis Malone, LaToya Morris, Saeed Wilkins and Sandra Hernandez to the writer and director. In 2002 the ODU theatre community were struck by tragedy one of the popular students Niki was gunned down by her abusive partner in her own home, leaving their child an orphan, and her friends reeling.  As therapy for themselves, as well as a commemoration and celebration of her life, students from her theatre arts course joined together in devising, writing and performing this piece of theatre. In a similar way to that of ‘The Larmie Project’, interviews were conducted an in-depth research into all aspects of abusive relationships were collated in to the show we see today.  Rather than being a team of professional actors, these are colleagues, friends and teachers, each one personally touched by the tragedy. They mix the live reality information with scenes from possibly the most famous tragedy in theatre, Shakespeare’s Othello.  I had never thought of the Moor as an abusive person but the way he is presented in this show it is possible. You can see each of the actors in turns with tears in their eyes during the performance, and from talking to them afterwards, the events of two years ago are still close to the surface.  The show has helped them in many ways but even two years after the events there are moments when the memories are still raw.  They all hope that someone seeing ‘Willow Song’ will be able to break the circle in their own abusive relationship, or be there to help a friend, thus helping prevent a similar tragedy. It could so easily have been sentimental slush instead of the fascinating, hard hitting, well performed, and thought provoking production that it is. *****

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