Faced with bitter repercussions from her family, her desire to retain her spiritual roots and find happiness becomeher life’s focus.
Graf’s script covers a lot of ground both in terms of time and plot points while successfully engaging but never overwhelming the audience with minutiae.
None of which would mean a whit were it not for the winning performance of actress Anna Khaja who portrays not only Hanna but every other character in this 90-minute, solo-actor production.
Khaja does a spectacular job of presenting each stage of Hanna’s life and development with total commitment.
Whether we are watching a 5-year-old skipping through the Guyanese forest or a terrified teenage bride forced to consummate a clearly loveless marriage, Khaja’s work is masterful.
Clearly, Khaja and director Anita Khanzadian have a wonderful working relationship as the transitions between scenes and characters are fashioned perfectly.
Perhaps one of Khaja’s strongest assets is her charming ability to imbue the subtlest of facial expressions or gestures with so much meaning.
Equally commendable is her ingenious facility with dialects, particularly with Hanna’s accent giving way to an Americanized sound as she matures.
Ultimately, Khaja’s skill in personalizing each character produces the effect that she is, in fact, recreating autobiographical moments from her own life.
And yet, perhaps the greatest kudos owed here to playwright, director and actor alike stems from their making a completely fictitious story seem absolutely true.
No doubt this illusion is aided by the intimate nature of the Sidewalk Studio Theatre itself.
With only three rows of seating, it serves as the perfect venue for single-actor works such as this.
And aided by the simple, yet effective, work of scenic designer Davis Campbell and Matthew Richter’s lighting and sound, this poignant work fills every nook and cranny of the playing space.
Dink O’Neal, an actor and member of the American Theatre Critics Assn., resides in Burbank.
What: “No Word in Guyanese for Me” by Wendy Graf
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, extended through June 25
Where: Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Drive, #D, Burbank
Contact: (800) 838-3006 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/155636