Night Over Erzinga / by R. Sheth

October 16, 2012
By Oliver Sava

Institutionalized after a miscarriage and about to receive electroshock therapy, Armenian immigrant Alice (Sandra Delgado) says, “You have to forget who you are to be free.” The horrors of the past are the obstacles of the present in Adriana Sevahn Nichols’s new drama, tracing how Alice’s traumatic childhood experience in her home country affects the family she builds in the U.S.

Spanning four generations, from Alice’s parents to her granddaughter, the play thoroughly details the atrocities committed against the Armenian people in the early 20th century. But Nichols’s history of the Armenian-Turkish conflict is secondary to the family drama in her nearly three-hour play. Act I centers on Alice, while Act II jumps forward in time to follow Alice’s adult daughter Aghavni, nicknamed Ava (Delgado again), whose story follows the same trajectory: horrible childhood, disappointing husband, marriage that falls apart after the first child.

As Nichols weaves together the past and present, Lisa Portes’s cast does strong work portraying different roles at various points in time. Delgado boldly transitions from Alice to Ava, losing the Armenian accent and gaining a youthful effervescence. Nicolas Gamboa gives a charismatic performance as Ava’s Dominican husband, Bienvenido, despite his character arc’s abrupt conclusion. Still, the cast’s efforts can’t revive the script’s pacing, which slows to a crawl before the final revelation of Alice’s childhood trauma.