Life in DC can be utterly chaotic and overwhelming. In her new play, Cristina Bejan piles on the daily DC stressors – balancing work, school, family, and friends – which led to the ultimate mental upset in Finally Quiet In My Head. The play is a journey bridging the gap between the end of adolescence and the demands of adulthood for Morgan, her family, friends, and therapist.
Last Saturday was the United States premiere of Bejan’s play at the DC Black Theater Festival. Her goal was simply to expose a community that for decades suppressed mental health issues to a simple solution – the importance of empathetic support.
The protagonist Morgan, a girl drowning in a sea of burdens, was portrayed by Muslima Musawwir. She revealed a wide emotional range allowing us a deep connection to the plight of a girl surviving on the edge of reality. The most captivating performance was delivered by Christopher Akinbuwa as Gerard, a spiritually motivated guide who offered insight into Morgan’s roots and supported her in times of self-doubt. His sensitive portrayal drew the audience into the heart of the issue. In the midst of her mental anguish Morgan’s parents Deborah and Anthony (Gwen Lewis and Steve Langley,) depicted the denial that often occurs when a child veers off course. Lewis and Langley allowed the audience to embrace their realistic reactions to a very difficult situation.
By blending humor with the intense topic at hand, a young woman’s nervous breakdown, Bejan’s work allowed the audience to peer deeper into the mind of Morgan on her journey through the mental health system. Janani Ramachandran played the humorous yet informative Dr. Raj who offered a sense of utter positivity during moments of dramatic intensity at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Morgan’s best friend Tosha gave a glimpse into Morgan before she became a patient. Tuesday Barne’s portrayal of Tosha allowed the audience to connect with the softer side of Morgan’s persona. She very convincingly evoked the deepest amount of blame for Morgan’s suffering while revealing the unconditional love of a friend.
Powerful artwork created by Zsudayka Nzinga played the pivotal role of personifying the struggle that many patients encounter. Art becomes a substantial tool that aids in Morgan’s recovery.
DC BLACK THEATRE FESTIVAL
June 19 – 28
150 performances in 10 days
Finally Quiet In My Head
June 20 and 21
Details and Tickets
Directors Cristina Bejan and Brittney Sankofa connected with their cast, creating emotionally provocative performances that reflected the intense highs and lows surrounding mental illness. The fusion of amazing visual art and the effectiveness of the ensemble encouraged the audience to remove any stigma they may hold from the disease and to embrace the person.
Even fantastic scripts encounter obstacles. The many scene changes, I lost count after five, abruptly removed me from the story. Additionally, the irrelevant music selections that blasted through the speakers during scene transition distracted from the emotional intensity of the narrative.
Ultimately, Finally Quiet In My Head offered exposure to an often overlooked segment of our population. The characters were well developed and relatable; the journey of a mental health patient from fractured to flourishing is insightful and transformative.