Preview; Opens 11/1.
A big smile came to my face when grandmotherly Candy Lady turned out to be full of sugar, talking about how menstruating into a man's coffee is the best way to keep him from going anywhere. That kind of brash writing is not just clever, it's illuminating and sharp. But the downside to Katori Hall's evocative script is that the plot isn't at all provocative: the climaxes are telegraphed (one might even say that they're faked) and the story itself, despite dealing with hoodoo and being set in 1930's Memphis, isn't anything special. So far as presentation goes, Hall is at her best when building up to the storm, writing some terse moments into otherwise innocuous scenes, as when Ace of Spades, the blues singer bewitched by conjuror Candy Lady into falling in love with the not-so-innocent-just-naive Toulou, confronts Toulou's older brother, Jib, over a game of two-handed spades. The poison in the flask that they're wagering over is superfluous; what really matters is the way in which Ace of Spades becomes convinced that Toulou's baby is Jib's, not his. That's fine acting, and when it's unobstructed by the direction (which at times overextends) or by the script's hasty resolutions, Hoodoo Love works well. But right now, it's only as catchy as the occasional beats of the blues songs; to evoke is not enough: it needs to provoke as well.
[Read on] [Also blogged by: Patrick]