Hibernian Hall in Nubian Square is once again producing in-person performances, reopening its theatrical doors for the first time since 2019 with “Smoked Oysters” by Hibernian Hall’s 2021/22 Playwright-in-Residence Mary McCullough. The powerful rumination on a Black family is as timely as it was during its January 2020 debut at Greater Egleston High School.
Initially, “Smoked Oysters,” directed by Dawn M. Simmons, shows the portrait of a thriving Black family. Ulysses (Paul Benford-Bruce), a retired professor, plans a vacation for his beloved wife Arnetta (Dayenne CB Walters), and they both burst with pride for their son Bernard (Zair Silva). But when Ulysses gets lost on a walk home and is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, cracks begin to form in the family’s existence.
“‘Smoked Oysters’ allows the audience to peep through a keyhole of what a real family looks like,” says Haris Lefteri, Interim Program Director for Hibernian Hall at Madison Park Development Corporation. “It is an examination of sickness and health, of family patterns and relationships and, most importantly, a paradoxical mix of energy and exhaustion that seems to seep from each one of the characters’ pores.”