‘Children’ done well despite stereotypes


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Carl Hendrick Louis & Carra Patterson in “Little Children Dream of God.”

Joseph Myers, Contributing Writer

Roundabout Underground is currently hosting “Little Children Dream of God,” a play that discusses ideas including culture identity, faith and community.  The play is centered on Sula (Carra Patterson) immigration from Haiti to Miami. As a pregnant woman, Sula makes the decision to immigrate in hopes of creating a better life for her child.

Sula floats to Miami in a car tire, and, upon arrival, is taken in by the caring Joel (Maurice Jones) and the brazen Carolyn (Deirdre O’Connell), a mother of 11. Though haunted by memories of her past as a Voodoo priestess, Sula decides to create a new identity for herself. While creating a new identity, Sula escapes her former one by running away from her estranged husband, who is searching for her and their baby.

Using Voodoo and demonic visions to portray a Haitian woman’s struggles relies on problematic stereotypes. This play’s depiction of Haitian culture seems to come from a place of fear. Haitian culture is represented in a negative light which contradicts the idea of acceptance that the play tries to communicate. In one scene, Sula’s husband follows her to Miami and confronts her, chants to her in a foreign tongue and causes her to become possessed. These aspects of the play stereotype and limit the depiction of Haitian culture.

From an aesthetic perspective, the set and lighting are smart and effective. The seemingly simple set combines a run-down Miami apartment and Haitian-inspired art. The scene changes are quick and fluid because of the set’s minimalist nature. The set, which centers on key props such as a throw draped over a sofa, makes the different locations clear to the audience. The lighting design is very dramatic and adds suspense to the production. Cool blue lights are used in dreams and flashback sequences and fiery red lights are used in nightmare and possession sequences. The blue light adds an ethereal feeling to the environment, while the red makes the scene intense, unsettling and at times frightening. Despite the play’s flaws, the acting is raw. O’Connell’s performance stands out in her careful portrayal of the blunt but sweet Carolyn.

“Little Children Dream of God” is a well-executed play that features smooth, seamless set transitions and dynamic lighting designs that enhance the story and sincere acting. Despite the play’s positive aspects, there are some fundamental problems with the play’s content. However, the writing and acting of “Little Children Dream of God” presents a genuine, heartfelt portrayal of kindness between fellow humans of disparate backgrounds.

“Little Children Dream of God” is playing at The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center For Theatre, 111 W. 46th St., until April 5.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 25 print edition. Email Joseph Myers at [email protected]