Entertainment » Theatre

Milk Like Sugar

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Feb 12, 2018
A promotional photo from "Milk Like Sugar."
A promotional photo from "Milk Like Sugar."  (Source:Dave Cantelli)

Epic Theatre Company's "Milk Like Sugar" is an effective comedy-drama about three teenage African-American girls who learn about having to make tough choices.

When the play begins, Annie, played with a natural unaffected charm by newcomer Valearie Kane, along with her friends Talisha and Margie (Alijah Ileana Dickenson) make a pact: they all agree to get pregnant.

The trio believes having babies will bring them a wealth of material rewards.

Annie sets her sights on Malik (Ibrahima Tylar Jahumpa) who doesn't want to be known as a "baby daddy." He is an intelligent man who wants to go to college and make something of his life.

Annie has better luck with the hunky tattoo artist Antwoine (David Monteiro), who has his own ambitions.

Playwright Kirsten Greenidge knows the way teenage girls talk. Annie, Talisha, and Margie discuss tattoos, "slider phones," and sex with a mixture of humor and bravado.

Annie tells Malik she isn't getting good grades in school and has no hope of pursuing a higher education. Like her friends, having a baby is a ticket to happiness. Yet these girls don't even realize the tremendous responsibilities which come from raising another human being.

Annie, Talisha, and Margie also believe they have no other options available to them.

The core of the show is the hopelessness of these girls' lives. As a society, we have turned our back on the plight of young African-Americans, particularly the ones living in poverty.

"Milk Like Sugar" shines a light on these women and lets us know about their hopes and dreams. Unless we pay more attention to the spate of broken families and a failing educational system, the price we pay as a country will continue to be high.

Director Tammy Brown, who has acted in several Epic productions, skillfully takes us into this world without the use of elaborate sets or props. Brown also generates lively performances from the cast.

Sonya Joyner is electrifying as Annie's single mother Myrna, a woman who is working at a job she finds unrewarding. Myrna writes short stories and dreams of having her work published. The interplay between Joyner and Kane is believable and compelling as these two women reach a breaking point in their relationship.

Angelique Dina has a fiery energy as Talisha, who is consumed by anger and resentment. Underneath Talisha's tough exterior is a need for belonging and acceptance.

I also liked Jackie Aguirre as Annie's more sophisticated friend Keera, who speaks affectionately about her ideal home life with her family.

Annie is envious of Keera until the truth about Keera's bleak existence is revealed. It is one of the more powerful moments in the play.

"Milk Like Sugar" does end on a note of optimism, when Annie comes to realize she does have the potential to do something productive with her life. Sadly, too many others may never get the same chance.

"Milk Like Sugar" runs through February 24. Artists Exchange, Theatre 82, 82 Rolfe Square, Cranston. www.epictheatreri.org

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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