By Dorian Palumbo
Reviewed by Robert Viagas
Six women who take a class in “Mediumship and Divination” bite off more than they can chew in Dorian Palumbo’s supernatural drama Divination, which had its world premiere Off-Off-Broadway.
This cautionary tale for the grown Harry Potter generation shows what happens when a troubled young woman named Tara (Yating Sun) sets out to explore the latent powers she has only begun to understand, and winds up moving too quickly, drawing the five other nascent clairvoyants in her class into a paranormal whirlpool that endangers them all.
It’s an exciting and interesting idea for a play, but Palumbo’s script needs to develop the enigmatic Tara much more and the supporting characters relatively less. Ken Coughlin’s production winds up emphasizing that difference, with stronger performances in some of those supporting roles, especially Esther Ayomide Akinsanya as the peppery crystal-seller Michelle, and Abigail Choi Arader as the sensitive budding sorceress Badriyah.
Considering the subject matter, the play could also benefit either from more numerous magical special effects, or a more suspenseful build toward the climactic special effect it does have. The play gets A-plus for diversity, creating a naturally interacting multi-ethnic variety of characters who never fall into stereotypes in a play about a variety of spirits whose externals are less important than their hearts.
Divination had its world premiere at the Sargent Theatre in the American Theatre of Actors complex at 314 West 54th Street in Manhattan through Nov. 11.