Caroline, or Change
Book and Lyrics by Tony Kushner
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Director: Mitchell Butel
A gospel/rhythm and blues musical in downtown Darlinghurst. Not only is the music glorious but the soul of ‘Caroline, or Change’ resonates with the quest to live a life of grace when so many obstacles would seem to interfere with this desire. Not quite Old Man River, more 60’s Louisiana.
A glorious moon, personified by the deep melancholy tones of chanteuse Ruva, philosophises round the dilemmas of stoic (and equally gifted songstress) housemaid Caroline (Elenoa Rokobaro). Caroline’s daughter Emmie (Nkechi Anele) cannot understand why her mother won’t fight more against her lot in life – not realising that she and her brothers are a large part of the reason her mother chooses servitude for the family’s survival. After her work week Caroline is too tired to be impassioned by any cause except religion.
Poverty and exhaustion; the play centres round Caroline, trying her hardest to keep her children fed and clothed. Unfortunately her efforts to achieve this - week in, week out - have her children and friends feeling that she is giving up on life and possibility. Caroline herself feels she has found the only dignified way she has to keep the family’s head above water; by working in the mouldy underground laundry of the Jewish family who employ her.
There’s a delightful young boy who worships Caroline because she lets him light her one daily cigarette, the Jewish family Caroline works for deals with its own pain and loss, a President is assassinated, a stature of a Southern hero is decapitated … and all the while a silvery moon croons over the drama of mortals.
Change comes in strange ways, people are both brave and frightened.