Our Lady of Kibeho
Nneka Okafor, Starla Benford, Mandi Masden, and Joaquina Kalukango in ‘Our Lady of Kibeho’ (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Katori Hall has emerged as one of the most interesting and ambitious playwrights in American theater. The Mountaintop daringly reimagined the final day in the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Hurt Village offered a compelling portrait of a Memphis housing project in the early 2000s. And now she offers a very different examination of black lives, Our Lady of Kibeho, playing at Off Broadway’s Signature Theatre. The setting is a Roman Catholic secondary school for girls in a remote village in Rwanda in 1981. What’s unusual about the fact-based drama is not the subject matter — three girls’ claiming to experience visions of the Virgin Mary — but the unironic approach to the material. This is the rare play that takes religious faith and devotion seriously and forthrightly. Indeed, this is a show that could have a long life in Catholic churches and schools. Check out my B+ review on EW.com.

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