Friday, January 24, 2020

Review of "Pike St."

Nilaja Sun in "Pike St." at Hartford Stage through February 2nd.
For a one-person show to succeed, the performer needs to be charismatic, exhibit emotional range and, for many such productions, be able to embody several different personalities.  The story also needs to be compelling and entertaining.  All these essential components are in place in Pike St., a lively and impressive piece of stagecraft at Hartford Stage through February 3rd.

Playwright and actress, Nilaja Sun, has constructed a tight show—running just 80 minutes--that is captivating, comical, and heartbreaking.   The play is set, primarily, in a fifth-floor walk-up apartment in New York’s Lower East Side.  It is within this small, humble abode where most of her characters, of various ages and ethnicities, come to life.  Ms. Sun’s main portrayal is of Evelyn, a mid-30-year-old Puerto Rican single mother.  They also include her severely disabled teenage daughter, an elderly Jewish woman, and her philandering father.

What sets the play into its dramatic arc is news of a dangerous storm fast approaching the city and the arrival of her war hero brother, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  These elements, in addition to interpersonal conflicts and family discord, converge to produce an absorbing multi-generational saga.

As writer, Ms. Sun, has fashioned a story that incorporates a number of timely issues into its flow, which Director Ron Rusell has seamlessly blended together in scenarios that move effortlessly and smoothly into each other.  There is a natural, realistic quality to the narrative that is unforced and genuine.  Ms. Sun blends humor, compassion, and empathy to produces a spellbinding work that, ultimately, saddens but also holds out for a ray of hope.

The actress gives a tour de force performance as she imbues each of her characters with singular attributes and nuances that brings them to life.  It is the physicality of her portrayals which brings an intensity and vividness to her one-person play.

Pike St., a taut, well-crafted play that is a triumphant display of showmanship. Playing at Hartford Stage through February 3rd.  For information, go to

No comments: