Key Reviews: ‘Hoodoo Love’ at Raven Theatre

The Key: Young Critics Mentorship Program is back with our fifth set of reviews, and this set is all about  Hoodoo Love at Raven Theatre! This year’s cohort: Ada Alozie, Alisa Boland, Anyah Royale Akanni,  Hannah Antman, Mariah Schultz, and Yiwen Wu. Read selections from each critic below, and click through to their author profiles to read the full critique and learn more about them! The Key is co-facilitated by Regina Victor and Oliver Sava. 

Alisa Boland: “Hoodoo Love, directed by Wardell Julius Clark at Raven Theatre, adds a bit of extra enchantment to Katori Hall’s debut script, a cocktail of blues singing, conjure, and inevitable tragedy. Set in Memphis, Katori Hall’s play follows Toulou an aspiring singer, played with spirit and tenderness by Martasia Jones. The young country girl turns to the supernatural help of her friendly, grandmotherly neighbor and hoodoo practitioner Candylady (played by the audience favourite, Shariba Rivers) to hold down her lover Ace (Matthew James Elam), a restless blues artist. The situation is further complicated by the arrival of Toulou’s older brother Jib (Christopher Wayland Jones), a preacher with a wolfish eye and an appetite for unholy, distilled spirits.” –  Read Alisa Boland’s full critique and learn more about the author! 

Credit: Michael Brosilow. Pictured: Martasia Jones, Christopher Wayland Jones, and Shariba Rivers.

Mariah Schultz: “Raven Theatre’s Hoodoo Love comes in with a bang, literally. Deep, pulsating noises of the South (sound design by Jeffrey Levin) and Hoodoo tricks turn a Great Depression era Memphis upside down and four souls are forever changed. Lost, hardworking Toulou (Martasia Jones) yearns for movement and is swayed by the rhythms of womanizing crooner, Ace of Spades (Matthew James Elam). Their relationship begins at a climax and despite a stormy, steamy time in the sack, it’s anything, but easy lovin’.” – Read Mariah Schultz’s full critique and learn more about the author!

Credit: Michael Brosilow. Pictured: Martasia Jones, Matthew James Elam.

Ada Alozie: “What kept me enthralled throughout the entire performance was Shariba Rivers’ Candylady. From the moment she stepped on change, the mood changed and we were swept in by her bawdy musings about life, relationships, and love. With clear control of the words Hall had written, every sentence sounded right. Martasia Jones (Toulou) shined when paired with Rivers as a scene partner and their chemistry illuminated the stage in the closing scene of Act 1. It is when Toulou and Candylady are sharing space with each other and even doing magic together that the bonds that bring them together feel bombastically palpable, yet somberly ephemeral.”– Read Ada Alozie’s full critique and learn more about the author! 

Hannah Antman: “In Raven Theatre’s Hoodoo Love by Katori Hall, the magic lies inside. When young heroine Toulou initially expresses that she doesn’t believe in the hoodoo proposed by neighbor and mentor Candylady, she fires back: “It believe in you”. Indeed, it’s this steadfast belief and spirited hope that carries Toulou through her journey, as the men in her life turn from disappointing to depraved. In this richly painted drama, with evocative direction by Wardell Julius Clark, it’s the women that bring the magic to Hoodoo Love, and make the long journey worthwhile.” – Read Hannah Antman’s full critique and learn more about the author! 

Credit: Michael Brosilow. Pictured: Shariba Rivers.

Yiwen Wu: “There are no new tricks under the sun, only variations of human desire. Raven Theatre Company’s Hoodoo love is a heartrending ride through love, lust, and loss. The ride itself may feel long at times, but the train does keep moving. Written by Katori Hall and directed by Wardell Julius Clark, this potent performance is a tribute to an awakened black woman, whose broken heart is what it takes to kick start a journey to self-determination. – Read Yiwen Wu’s full critique and learn more about the author!

Hoodoo Love has been extended and runs until Dec. 22nd.

Toulou: Martasia Jones
Candylady: Shariba Rivers
Ace of Spades: Matthew James Elam
Jib: Christopher Wayland Jones

Written by Katori Hall
Directed by Wardell Julius Clark
Music Director: Ricky Harris
Stage Manager: Elizabeth VanHaren
Assistant Stage Manager: Lucy Whipp
Costume Designer: Alexis Chaney
Assistant Costume Designer: Beckie Price
Lighting Designer: Simean Carpenter
Sound Designer: Jeffrey Levin
Set Designer: Sydney Lynne Thomas
Props Designer: Dana Macel
Intimacy Designer: Rachel Flesher
Technical Director: Bobby Huggins
Scenic Artist: Eileen Rozycki
Master Electrician: Lena Aubrey
Artistic Producer: Cole von Glahn
Production Photographer: Michael Brosilow

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