Reviewer: Howard Steven Frydman
aka “The Howard”
Production: Pike St.
Theater: The Hartford Stage
Playwright: Nilaja Sun
Director: Ron Russell
The Howard’s Exhale – “The Sun Rises – on Pike St”.
She is Legion, she is Inspired, she is Quixotic – she is the Sun. Obie Award Winning Playwright and actress Nilaja Sun has brought forth a bold, humorous and oh so courageous play, “Pike St.” where she portrays a myriad of on stage characters, each vivid and stirring, that flow effortlessly from one to another. Written and performed by Nilaja Sun, and directed by Ron Russell, “Pike St.”, with a performance time of 80 minutes, is currently being presented at The Hartford Stage as part of their 2020 season.
It has only been but a few moments since I have left the theater, and Miss Sun’s solo performance still burns brightly within my mind’s eye. This is her showcase and no wonder she has received so many accolades for her various works. Miss Sun’s “Pike St.” was originally commissioned and produced by Epic Theatre Ensemble and made its world premiere at the Abrons Arts Center in New York. Sun’s critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway hit “No Child…” was recognized with 21 awards, including an Obie Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, two Outer Critics Circle Awards (including the John Gassner Playwriting Award for Outstanding New American Play), the Helen Hayes Award, two NAACP Theatre Awards, and the soloNOVA Award for Artist of the Year from the terraNOVA Collective. Additionally Suns’s television and film credits include Madam Secretary, The Good Wife, 30 Rock, Law & Order: SVU, Unforgettable, The International, Youth in Oregon, and Rubicon. Sun is a Princess Grace Foundation Award recipient and has worked as a teaching artist in New York City for 20 years.
Pike St. – a tenement in New York’s lower east side- the residence of three generations of a Puerto Rican family. Audience members enter the theater with Miss Sun, seated on stage, already in character of immobilized brain damaged daughter Candi, so silent, hands and legs ebbing and flowing with distorted movements. From Candi, we are introduced to her mother, Evelyn, who is on the phone, a major storm is heading toward NYC, and Evelyn is desperately seeking a generator for Candi’s respirator in preparation that the electricity to her building will soon be lost.
Yes, like the biblical “Legion” – for she is many, Sun slips into numerous characters, so fast, furious and seamlessly that one easily imagines that they are indeed all on stage at the same time conversing with each other. From her elderly womanizing grandfather, brother Manny arriving home from after serving in Afghanistan, Candi’s uncaring caretaker, to the elderly Jewish neighbor. We are indeed entranced by these legions of characters that populate Pike Street and the poignant story that eventually unfolds.
TRIUMPHANT IS Miss Sun, she rightly deserves all accolades, kudos and bravos for both her play and her solo performance. We join others in celebrating her poignant, highly-enjoyable and life-affirming drama. It’s been a long time since we’ve so enjoyed a heartfelt performance such as this and we encourage all who enjoy live theater to take in this production. Miss Sun has indeed taken the Hartford Stage by solar storm! Enjoy.
Tickets for the Hartford Stage production of “Pike St.” are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (860) 527-5151 or by visiting http://www.hartfordstage.org. Weeknight and evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances are Saturdays, Sundays and select weekdays at 2 p.m.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.