Review: Paradise Produced by Viola Davis

So Today members of our team from Amtu Hair Art & Tools decided to go out and support our favorite natural hair queen Viola Davis and the play she produced. In addition, Vicangelo Bulluck is also an amazing director truly worth supporting as well. We felt like it’s important to advocate for quality artists of color and the work they share with us. However, we weren’t quite prepared for what Mrs. Davis had in-store because the play she produced literally had us holding back real damn tears, and due to that we also felt compelled to write a long heartfelt review. The play Paradise written by Laura Maria Censabella and directed by Vicangelo Bulluck was exceptional and I mean literally every aspect of it, down to the very detail. The chemistry between the actors, Medallion Rahini & Jeff Marlow was superb,  the director did an amazing job making you feel as though you were right there in that ‘classroom’ feeling the tension, feeling the teenage angst, the uncertainty. The writer made you feel as though you had experienced every conversation, said every word at some pivotal moment in your life.  It was nostalgic, it rose from sentimental passions, hurt, loss, and even wins. It was an exploration on identity, purpose, worldview, one’s humanity and even our internal wiring of what makes us human and flawed. The areas and topics explored in this play transcended religion, race and cultures and although it shared beautiful insight on Islam, it reflected every passion we’ve all ever felt about a belief system we grew up with. Every conversation that occurred between the two central characters discussing their beliefs and philosophy, were discussions I had with my friends in high school  & college from Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Morocco, Algeria, France, Cameroon, Italy, my Korean American friends, African American friends and more. I believe what it demonstrated is that when we’re young, when we're teenagers there is fire in us, that we’re born with, a divine fire ( considering we’re so few years away from birth and the divine source God) that divine fire is guided by the beliefs our parents share with us whether it’s Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or Christianity - the young heart will naturally be passionate about it, because it is inclined to be one with love/God in whichever way it’s led there. The heart during that time (for many and not all) is inclined to be hopeful, imaginative, and pure. The play Paradise brought back the feeling of what it was like to be introduced to new passions, new journeys, and all the possibilities. It allowed us as an audience to fall into this concept and cosmic experience of the human connection and what it means, and why it’s so profound, even a phenomenon.  It asks us to explore the concept of love within its original form, which isn’t necessarily romantic. It brought to mind the film A.I by Steven Spielberg which explored the question of “What makes us human, the will that keeps us alive and what is central to our humanity?” I love that Paradise was written by a woman because it shares a special insight on sacrifice, and what sacrifice truly means. You could see the growth in the characters- a similar growth reflected in our journey as human beings, our adulthood - when a fire is reignited, when we’re once again inspired to ask those important questions we once asked when we were young, like ‘what is our purpose? What is our truth? Who is God? And where does this God exist?’ And then our journey unfolds again.