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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Seventh Heaven

Naomi Abiola
Get ready to WAVE YOUR RAG!
by Beat Rice

Seventh Heaven is a one-woman piece of poetic theatre written and performed by Naomi Abiola.  Abiola tells the story of Celia, born in a rural area of Trinidad whose mother dies at her birth. She is the seventh child of her mother and grew up with several stepmothers and stepsiblings. When Celia grows into a young adult she is under the impression that having children with men will make them stick around. Over the course of her adulthood, she herself has seven children. 

The piece is full of music that makes you want to jump up on your feet and celebrate with her.

Rhoma Spencer has staged the piece simply, and has Abiola use a scarf to represent many things in the story. Some of the subject matter of the piece could have easily resulted in a melodrama, but Abiola has taken Celia’s story and embraced the humour in it, making it a story of triumph and never tragedy. The piece is full of music that makes you want to jump up on your feet and celebrate with her.

This developing work definitely has potential. Abiola talks to the audience directly, and takes her time to tell the story. She engages the audience immediately and never lets us go. Some fleshing out of Celia’s turning points would make the piece more emotionally effective. I would love for Abiola to tell us more about Celia’s feelings towards her seven children. She hilariously personifies many of her stepmothers and men who come in and out of her life, but I am left wanting to know more about how her children have changed her. I also wanted her to further delve into Celia’s choice to immigrate to Canada. Hearing more about how she felt about the decision would have made for a more powerful triumph in the end.


I look forward to hearing about another life for Seventh Heaven. Not only does it give a voice to a young black woman, but it also celebrates all women who are single mothers who have overcome obstacles in life.

The afteROCK play series is a mini festival that showcases original works in development with bcurrent. The evening’s programming alternates in the week of March 4-10.

For Seventh Heaven:
Preview: Monday March 4 @ 6:30pm. Shows: Tuesday March 5 and Thursday March 7 @ 7:30pm , Saturday March 9 @ 7:30pm at COBA's Studio Theatre inside Daniels Spectrum