Hollywood Reporter: February 20, 1975
by Jay Arnold

 

Inner City Cultural Center
Through Feb. 22

 

Opening the Inner City Cultural Center's "Black Brasil" festival this week is Sortilegio, by Brazilian artist Abdias do Nascimento, a provocative and moving work dealing with the love of a black man for two women - one black, the other white.

Preceding the action is a three-lady chorus (Regina Werneck, Talya Ferro, and Sonia Tavares) who with a skillful blend of Portuguese and English (effectively foreshadowing the black vs. white cultural conflict that will follow) introduce us to Dottore Emanuel (brilliantly played by Terry Carter).

Unreal in atmosphere, these three Harpy-like apparitions establish a tone of light/dark contrast by performing a pagan sacrifice to the gods, all the while punctuating their eerie actions with gaily thrown away non sequiturs and hints of a tragedy to come. It is riveting.

Emanuel's arrival initiates a three-way psycho-drama (in his mind?) between himself and his two lovers, Efigenia, a fiery black woman played with sensitivity and intelligence by Gloria Calornee, and Margarida, the slightly coy "white-skinned" woman, played with a smouldering fierceness by Xenia Gratsos.

The intensity of the conflict is remarkable - Emanuel, the successful black lawyer, caught between his attraction on the one hand for Margarida's white, Western culture which is free from the paganism of his own roots that has become an embarrassment to him and, on the other hand, the intuitively basic love for Efigenia and the dignified clarity of values that she represents.

But rather than allowing this potentially tract-laden allegory to degenerate into pedantic overstatement or soupy melodrama, director C. B. Jackson has wielded some inspired dramatic touches which elevate this story to a very lofty dramatic height that comes when Emanuel finally murders one of his lovers in a psychological/ritualistic frenzy.

Calomee's Efigenia shows persuasive depth and an inner turmoil that is real in its execution and its final destructiveness. Margarida is less well-defined by Gratsos.