The journey of our lives, searching for answers to explain our past, present, and future, is comparable to Merriam-Websters’s definition of sand being “the moments of a lifetime.” Characters Angela, Odessa, and Adah hunt for answers on navigating humanity in sandblasted. Audiences will laugh as they relate to life’s subtle emotions exposed throughout this production by playwright Charly Evon Simpson.
As the story unfolds, we ask-are the characters on a celestial tour overseeing their past lives, or are they in an existential dream, falling apart in the present day but still trying to keep the pieces of their lives together? This story offers the audience insight into many metaphors of life.
The stage layout is several doors, walls, and windows, a cerulean sky with billowy white clouds and sand everywhere on the floor. The story opens with Angela and Odessa emerging from under the sand. Their back-and-forth bantering begins here and continues throughout the rest of the scenes. As Odessa brushes off the sand, her arm falls off, which leads us to wonder for the first time, are these two characters spirits, simply travelers in the desert of time, or is the arm falling off a metaphor for the physical changes humans go through in various stages of life?
Angela and Odessa meet celebrity wellness guru Adah in the sand. She inserts the idea they must keep moving to another place. How often we fall apart and think a different location will change who we are in life.
“Clearly, this place didn’t work,” Adah says. “So we’re going someplace else.”
But what does Adah know about life? In our internet-driven society, ordinary people follow celebrities to get answers, while teachers often fall short. Adah is tired of solving other people’s problems and needs to find her answers. So ultimately, Adah goes on her own journey. She cannot help Angela and Odessa; they must find solutions.
In scene two, we go back in time and meet Angela’s brother Jamal, who joins her and Odessa in an Adah self-help seminar. From the age of Adah’s pamphlets, it is apparent she has been at this for a long time. However, Jamal quickly acknowledges that Adah may not be equipped to give his sister and friend proper life guidance.
Brother and sister recall how their mom struggled years ago but never fell apart. Today, women discuss their concerns and problems openly, even admitting they don’t have it together. Quite the opposite, Jamal has a man’s point of view about life; rely on yourself to get through life’s problems.
The story transitions to both girls on the beach, Odessa in a bikini, and Angela clothed. The audience sees Odessa can expose her weaknesses and imperfections and be brave, while Angela questions how she can do it. Throughout the rest of the story, the audience witnesses the two women go through various transformations, with no culmination to the search for life’s answers.
At the end of the show, when Adah comes back from her journey, all three women arrive at the same decision in the sands surrounding them. They can take care of themselves. All three can and will survive. Or simply exist.
sandblasted by Charly Evon Simpson, directed by Summer L. Williams. Starring Marinda Anderson (Miss You Like Hell), Brittany Bellizeare (The Bluest Eye), Andy Lucien (The Blacklist), and Rolanda Watts (Rolonda).
Scenic design by Matt Saunders, costume design by Montana Levi Blanco, lighting design by Stacey Derosier, sound design by Sadah Espii Proctor, hair and wig design by Cookie Jordan, with casting director Kelly Gillespie.
sandblasted Offical Opening Night is Sunday, February 27, and plays through March 6 at Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15th Street, NYC. Tickets can be purchased at sandblasted | Vineyard Theatre or call the box office at 212-353-0303.
Running time: One hour and 40 minutes.