"Waafrika" staged by Thinking Cap Theatre

Makeba Pace, left, and Kim Ehly star in "Waafrika." (Nicole Stoddard / May 30, 2013)

Thinking Cap Theatre's latest production, “Waafrika,” has its socially conscious heart in the right place (identity, female circumcision, tribal tradition), but its theatrical head is a tad off. Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko’s heavy-handed script wants to be Steinbeckian, but lacks the restraint.

Awino (Makeba Pace) is the much-favored daughter of a Kenyan tribal chief (John Archie). The village has noted that Awino has cut her hair short and started wearing trousers. The chief’s wives (Carey Brianna Hart, Renee Elizabeth Turner and Stephon Duncan) are convinced Awino is having a lesbian relationship with Peace Corps volunteer Bobby (Kim Ehly).

Director Nicole Stodard does tap into the play’s more-poetic passages very well and lets her adept cast dig in and push the show forward…as much as they can.

And the production, from the sienna-hued set to the puts-you-there sound design, is top-notch.


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But the production offers little respite from the brutality and no disguising that the central characters are back and forth, up and down, yay and nay for 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

A better drama about this important topic exists, and it may lie with the wives. Their scene crackles with an energy the rest of the play never generates.

“Waafrika” runs through June 9 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive, in Fort Lauderdale. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays and 5 p.m. Sundays (no show Thursday, May 30). Tickets cost $35 ($30 for seniors and military; $20 for students 25 and under). Call 813-220-546 or go to ThinkingCapTheatre.com.