WHAT “The Homecoming Queen”
WHERE Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2, 330 W. 16th St.
INFO $50-$60; 866-811-4111, atlantictheater.org
BOTTOM LINE Another look at the complexities of coming home.
Don’t look for any rhinestone tiaras in “The Homecoming Queen.”
The crown in Ngozi Anyanwu’s complex new play at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2 is one of rich tradition, worn in reverence and regret by Kelechi, a bestselling author who has traveled from America to Nigeria to see, and ultimately bury, her ailing father.
Portrayed by Mfoniso Udofia, who is also a playwright and among several Nigerian-Americans bringing their voices to the stage of late, Kelechi shows up with a big bottle of anti-anxiety medication, clearly carrying the predictable baggage of many a young adult returning to a childhood home. She begs for space from the chorus of noisy, nosy aunties eager to see what’s inside her suitcase, from her demanding father (Oberon K.A. Adjepong) and especially from the quiet housegirl Beatrice (Mirirai Sithole).
In a series of flashes forward and back, Kelechi’s hopes for the future and details of her troubling life, both as a child in Nigeria and an up-and-coming novelist in America, clarify her reluctance to connect to either country, or their inhabitants. We never find out with any certainty where that search for connection takes her, but by play’s end, we find ourselves wishing her only the best.