Sample Play Review on Kentucky by Leah Nanako Winkler
Family is a basic unit of existence and anything that brings disintegration works towards hurting feelings among the members, necessitating efforts towards piecing the family together again. Kentucky is play written by Leah Nanako Winkler, who is half-Japanese, growing in Lexington; she attempts to bring out her mixed-race heritage in the play. Kentucky is a well-articulated play that attempts to pass an important message of a family attempting to piece themselves together out of various challenges. I watched the play at David Henry Hwang Theater, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles on Thursday 1st July 2016 from 2.00 pm. I arrived early enough to secure my seat number 12, a place that gave me the ideal setting towards the stage. Cost for the seats varied, ranging from $35 to $50; however, my seat cost $40. David Henry Hwang Theater was full earlier, with the audience taking their seats in time for the well-advertised play. Demographical, people of different racial backgrounds were well represented in the audience, Asian, or Pacific Islander origin conspicuously visible. Kentucky is a play in a modern setting, written and played in English.
Kentucky has a Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes, and is mostly a drama that talks more of family dynamics, in an effort to stay together as a unit. This drama is of a young woman, called Hiro, who has been living in New York for some time, apparently staying away from a verbally abusive father. She returns home at Kentucky in order to save her Sophie, her younger born-again from marrying a man she barely knows. Hiro has to face numerous challenges in a bid to stop the wedding, especially James, her abusive father whom she has to respect without questioning.
The beginning of the play was appealing because of the Lena Sands’ wittily tacky costumes the cast put on, performing an opening song “My Old Kentucky Home” that seemed to mock Hiro’s returning to a home and people who would add into her many hurts. This song and dance seems to be a frolicsome opener that gives way to other episodes that follow in the play. Many thing take place as Hiro tries to save her sister from the marriage; unfortunately, she has to phase to her long-forgotten family. As the play continues, the audience gets flash back information of some of the problems that have existed before (Hodge 12). This is a play some of the common problems that families face and an attempt to overcome the same.
The Director and the Performers
Deena Selenow, the director of the play fails to produce a better flow as seen in some of the irregularities in the piece of art. Some of the humor in the play fails to produce the required effect, leading to reduction of quirkiness to caricature. However, he does well by the general standards of the play. The cast is composed of skilled persons within the theatre industry; these people include Jenapher Zheng, Mel Hampton, Megan Rippey, Daniel Rubiano and Christian Telesmar. The cast is composed of talented artists who seem to have mastered their roles as given by Deena Selenow, the director. The director also shows an effective flow story on the constant misunderstandings within a family that desires to stay together (Hodge 11).
The Visual Elements
The play has been set in a colorful manner, staring from the beginning of the play, when the cast start with appealing costumes, song and dance. Lighting is good throughout the play, showing shadows and other elements for proper effects to the audience. On the same note, it is easy for the audience to follow up with timelines as the play progresses. All the visual elements have been used to produce the required effects in the play (Stucky & Cynthia 10). The director does well on this important aspect of theatre management.
The Big Picture
Kentucky is an important play that shows a family that had been separated before, Hiro coming back from New York in an attempt to help Sophie, the younger sister. As the story progresses, it comes out that the divisions in the play persists and they are unending and we are not aware whether anything is solved. What is striking is the bitterness that can sometimes come from being honest. As much as one person tries to be honest to the issues on the ground, other people may still find it difficult to come to terms with the same (Stucky & Cynthia 6). This is a bigger of our society at present. The truth from the national politics shows that the differences between the different races and political ideologies are wide apart. As indicates in the play, culture and religion also comes out as points of concern in the current society, just as shown in the play. It is important for the society to find out the point of unity despite the challenges at present. There may be persistent differences; however, this society remains a united family just like Hiro’s.
Hodge, Alison, ed. Twentieth-Century Actor Training. Routledge, 2000.
Stucky, Nathan and Cynthia Wimmer, eds. Teaching Performance Studies. Southern Illinois
University Press, 2002.