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Sost, Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre, at Victory Gardens Theater. Shepsu Aakhu's new play is interesting not for its writing, staging, or production values but because it pulls back the curtain on an unknown way of life.

Sost--which means "three" in the Amharic language--follows the lives of three Ethiopian sisters who all immigrated to the United States. Ade (Alana Arenas), the oldest, arrived as a college student. What with her American husband and now a child on the way, she's never found time to return home, even to visit. Senayit (Sierra Cleveland) married into a prominent dissident family and lives in bitter exile. Beza (Tabitha Matthews Cross), the ebullient youngest, is thoroughly, joyously Americanized. Their mother, who never appears onstage, years earlier followed their loving professor father (James T. Alfred) to Evanston. Now she would rather live alone than in the New World. Defined by her absence, she's an unhappy, withholding presence.

Like Chekhov's play about three sisters, Sost is too long and sometimes seems to be about nothing. Its dominant theme is packing and moving, including only that which is essential to one's life journey. The production's laborious pace and the play's structure--it's composed of 21 vignettes--indicate that Aakhu and director Mignon McPherson Nance still have something to learn from their characters about what to include and what to leave behind.

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