Intersectionality is the idea that all of the different aspects of a person (such as race, class, gender and so on) are interconnected and can be affected by overlapping systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
THE LIGHT tells the story of Rashad (Abdul Sesay) and Genesis (Ang(ela) Bey), a couple living in Chicago who decide to take the next step in their relationship via engagement, but in doing so uncover truths about each other that they weren’t wholly prepared for. Grappling with the intersectionality of race and gender, this show at its core is an engaging conversation about how those societal constructs and systems can affect our relationships.
A two person play only succeeds if both actors are strong enough to carry the material, and wise enough to rely on their scene partners to help them through it. That is where THE LIGHT shines the brightest, as performers Ang(ela) Bey and Abdul Sesay have an ease and natural chemistry that immediately allows the audience to connect with Genesis and Rashad. Both performers have moments to show their depth and understanding of their roles, with Bey presenting a masterful monologue towards the end of the show.
The show is directed briskly and authentically by J. Paul Nicholas, taking advantage of Theatre Exile’s intimate space to tell a complex human story. There’s nowhere for these characters to go, so they are forced to face these difficult conversations head on. The director and actors use the space as their sparring ground, coming together and pulling apart over and over again. The apartment these characters inhabit feels lived in and alive, thanks to the great work of set designer Nick Embree.
This play talks frankly and candidly about the struggles of black women in today’s society, and how we unfairly treat victims of sexual assault. It navigates the nuanced conversation about the power dynamics between black men and women, highlighting that everyone has their own unique struggle, while advocating for a base level of humanity in our treatment of others. THE LIGHT doesn’t shy away from the messy or the uncomfortable, and true to its namesake, illuminates to the characters and audience that these conversations, while challenging, are essential.
[Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th St.]February 2-26, 2023; theatreexile.org