‘Mlima’s Tale’ review: Lynn Nottage drama about avarice and ivory
Elephants don’t forget. Lynn Nottage’s “Mlima’s Tale,” a haunting drama about avarice and ivory, offers a dramatic reminder that the majestic beasts endure things no living creature would want to recall.
Beginning in a game park in Kenya, the play at the Public Theater follows Mlima, a rare old “big tusker,” who’s hunted and butchered for his ivory teeth. The subject matter isn’t ground-breaking, but two-time Pulitzer winner Nottage’s (“Ruined,” “Sweat”) by turns lacerating and lyrical play leaves a mark.
Kevin Mambo, Ito Aghayere, Sahr Ngaujah, and Jojo Gonzalez are all connected in the story of a majestic murdered elephant.
So does Mlima (Sahr Ngaujah, an actor with a mighty physical presence and voice) on the greedy murderers, middle-men and millionaire collectors connected to his death. They’re deftly played by Ito Aghayere, Jojo Gonzalez and Kevin Mambo. Musician Justin Hicks adds sonic textures to Jo Bonney’s fluid and striking staging.