By: Sally Henry
An uproarious standing ovation accompanied streaming tears of mascara as the audience applauded NCCU’s production of The Bluest Eye. Depicting an 11-year-old African American girl’s harsh experiences with discrimination and abuse in the 1940s, little girls narrate the heartbreaking story from their perspective. Thus, the poignancy of the story hinges almost completely on the actors convincing the audience beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are children.
As narrators Frieda and Claudia, Kay Monet and Daja Middleton both employed constant childish mannerisms with their entire bodies, such as swaying their arms absentmindedly or fidgeting with their hair, as well as speaking in high, childlike voices. This served to reinforce the moments in the play in which the narrators abruptly switch to adult mannerisms and voices when narrating very dark and serious moments.
Moriah Williams’s Pollyanna-like optimism at the beginning of the play as Pecola sharply contrasted the sobs and schizophrenic behavior that she employed at the end of the show. Such a distinct change, coupled with her juvenile innocence, served to tug relentlessly at the heartstrings of the audience.
Following one particularly sad scene, a chorus of sniffles resounded from the audience, and didn’t stop until the end of the show.