Review by ERIC CIREJune 21, 2012 certified reviewer
My overall impression
For a play that touts the author/performer’s status as a Christian missionary, this is a play that first and foremost sets out to entertain and inform, not to proselytise or judge. Lina Alfinito takes care to point out the riches and benefits available to the first world, and the tragedies of bigotry and disease that have been inflicted on the third, but never in a way that condemns the audience or the world in which they live. Instead, through a deft sense of mood and pace, and a playful attitude of self-deprecation and introspection, Alfinito gives a sense that she longs for unity and understanding above all else, and is confused by the ability of the world, and of herself to achieve it in a way that’s ultimately satisfying.
Starting the show with chatter about her gay BFF over a freshly poured cocktail, she instantly puts you at ease in terms of the “religious” aspect of her story, quickly getting to the meat of what led her to her work as a missionary, plunking us down in South Africa quickly enough to give a sense of the bewilderment and excitement felt by the performer. The show continues at a nice clip, jumping between personal anecdotes that center on the “one-woman” of Alfinito, the people she came to meet and befriend in Africa, and information that the audience might not know about South Africa, a la Apartheid and the division of various ethnic groups, and the conditions of poverty and disease that are suffered by poorer portions of the populace. As a result of this little juggling act, as well as the aforementioned sense of pace and mood, the show never particularly lags or loses it’s energy.
It will, of course, benefit over time from further performances. There are a few moments that feel a bit overwrought, none of them, funny enough, the somber expressions of loss when confronted with blatant racism and death from disease. As an early play, it comes out strong, but it will be interesting to see a future performance, when Alfinito has settled that much more into the character and the memories she expresses so effectively.
Ultimately, Confessions is a show I would recommend to practically anyone: Religious or secular, socially concerned or weary and cynical, there’s a touch of something for everyone, executed intelligently and, most importantly, in a way that’s enjoyable.