From playwright Fraser Grace, "Breakfast with Mugabe" tells the tale of a white psychiatrist summoned to examine and treat Robert Mugabe, the current President of Zimbabwe, who is suffering from paranoid visions. Time Out New York contributing critic David Cote filed the following review.
From King Lear going mad in a storm to George III flipping out in court, power and insanity have been the stuff of drama.
Now comes "Breakfast with Mugabe," in which a white psychiatrist is summoned to the presidential palace to treat Robert Mugabe, still the current strongman of Zimbabwe.
The dictator may be the one who’s sick, but it is the doctor’s health we should worry about.
In Fraser Grace’s play, inspired by a news story, Mugabe has been troubled by the "ngozi," or ghost, of a dead comrade from the 1970s Wars of Liberation against white minority rule.
These visions have made him paranoid - more than usual, we assume.
His stylish, imperious wife, Grace, played by Rosalyn Coleman, is fretting about her own safety. So she calls in Doctor Andrew Peric, played by Ezra Barnes, to examine her husband, played by the chilling and commanding Michael Rogers.
Balancing professional pride with concern for himself, Peric tries to tease out the mystery of Mugabe’s terror.
For those who think the answer is a tyrant’s bad conscience over spilt blood, it’s not that simple.
Scrupulously acted by a strong ensemble, and directed with forceful simplicity by David Shookhoff, the play gazes squarely at the postcolonial puzzle of modern-day Africa.
It would take more than a degree in psychoanalysis to untangle all the neuroses and delusions of the disordered state.
A word of warning about the text: there are thick accents and Zimbabwean expressions that will be foreign to American ears, but if audiences listen close, they should be drawn into this tense, gripping portrayal of instability - both political and mental.