This production of Robert Lowell's adaptation of Herman Melville's novella set on a ship full of African slaves suffers from an inconsistent tone.
The play opens with an American captain, Amasa Delano (Arthur Bartow) and his lacky, John Perkins (Benjamin Thys), spotting a ship that appears to be distressed in the distance. As it approaches, their curiosity grows and leads them to board what appears to be the Spanish boat of Don Benito Cereno (Rafael De Mussa). Through some plot twists, we get to know the true relationship between Cereno, his "slave", Babu (Jaymes Jorsling), and the mass of chained Africans kept underneath the main chambers of the boat.
Their presence is shadowy and their role only truly becomes clear towards the end of this intermissionless one-act, but the payoff seems hollow due to the one-dimensional characterization of the slaves, who mainly appear to stage primal dances that play out like atonalities in an otherwise major-scale piece.
As Cereno, Mussa exudes an over-the-top seriousness that would be more at home in Monty Python than Melville. It's actually distracting as one's inclined to anticipate a punchline that never comes. If there was some humor, though, the humanity of these characters could come through and illuminate the play's central theme of how otherwise compassionate people can treat those they view as "other" with unthinkable brutality.