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Devon and I were lucky enough Wednesday night to see the Off-Broadway production of Ruined, Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning new play. Set inside a brothel in the Congo during the height of civil war, the play is a riveting portrayal of lost souls working to achieve sanity despite the turbulent environment. Mama Nadi (played by the terrific Portia) is the madam and owner of a bar that plays host to everyone from bitter soldiers to wealthy industrialists. When two new girls show up on her doorstep, Mama Nadi takes them in, even though one of the women is “ruined” (the victim of female circumcision). As war boils throughout the country, the girls of Mama Nadi’s make their living anyway they can: dancing for soldiers, singing for patrons, and funneling all the proceeds back to Mama. Soon, things become increasingly chaotic for the inhabitants of the brothel, and each woman must face their predetermined fate or attempt to overturn it. Powerful, disturbing, and intimate, Ruined is a great American play. You can see this production, until September 6.

(A promo still from Ruined.)

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