Review "In Darfur": Massacre Exploited as Visual Spectacle

TimeLine Theatre presents



At 615 W. Wellington

Written by Winter Miller

Directed by Nick Bowling

Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm

Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm

Sundays at 2pm

Buy Tickets

Running Time:  95 minutes with no intermission


Reviewed by Katy Walsh


"Call it civil war, call it ethnic cleansing; call it genocide; call it 'none of the above.'  The reality is the same.  There are people in Darfur who desperately need the help of the international community."

                                                                                                -Secretary of State Colin Powell, September 2004


'In Darfur, men going out to collect firewood are killed.  The women are only raped.'  TimeLine Theatre presents the Chicago premiere of IN DARFUR.  Political duress fuels an ongoing civil war.  When rebel forces attack military facilities, the government retaliates by killing civilians.  In 2004, raids on remote villages in Sudan result in entire families being slaughtered.  A New York Times journalist wants to draw international attention to the genocide.  She needs a source to corroborate the story.  When Hawa wanders into a refugee hospital, she is the reporter's front page story.  Hawa's family has been murdered.   She has been beaten and gang raped.  And bonus, she is an English teacher!  When Hawa reported being raped, the police gave her 40 lashes for adultery.  What will happen to her if she tells the world her story?   IN DARFUR forces people to understand the true victims of global tryanny.    


Playwright Winter Miller penned a compelling expose' on a government sanctioned massacre.  Miller utilizes a journalist's deadline to drive the urgency of the story.  Under the direction of Nick Bowling, the intensity of the tragedy is an audio-visual masterpiece.  Using a full spectrum of multi-media techniques, Bowling stages the catastrophic happenings with heart-thumping drama.  Bowling assembled a powerful squadron of designers to exploit the massacre in a visual explosion.  Mike Tutaj (projections and video design) creates a montage of pictures, maps, and news articles to blur the lines between news breaking and theatrical experience.  Along with sound designer Andrew Hansen, Tutaj buries the dead with sand and poignant imagery.   Scenic designer Amanda Sweger shows contrast with a duplexed diorama.  The  bottom  serves as a primitive hospital tent.  Moving on up, the top is a sleek, modern New York Times office.  Designers Nic Jones and Jesse Klug light up dimensions of intrigue with violent shadow boxing and a getaway car simulation.   


Despite the show-stealing design dream team, this cast holds its own in the cruel mayhem.  When the violence rocks center stage, screaming Sudanese is translated by a sidelined ensemble member.  The disparity between the vulgar and calm voices is impactful.   The brutality is disturbingly memorable.   The vicious and aggressive hostility one human can inflict on another is alarming.  TimeLine Theatre brings the past to the present.  IN DARFUR is an in-your- face history lesson.  It's important to see this show to understand what happened just a few years ago to ensure it doesn't happen again.  IN DARFUR reminds us that it is a small world after all and caring shouldn't have borders. 


A man with his Droid on the pulse of the political scene, Cridlin describes it with 'intellectually, emotionally engaging.'    

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