Ars Nova and WP Theater (Women’s Project Theater) present the world premiere of Rachel Bonds' play with music about twin sisters, featuring songs by Brooklyn indie-rock duo The Bengsons. More…
While navigating the unsettling waters of young adulthood, twin sisters return home to find their father in a moment of crisis. Under the cover of late-night, small-town shadows, sleep is elusive, connections are frayed, and the Southern summer heat presses in. An ethereal, honest, funny-sad show about seeing old faces with new eyes, and the liminal space between loss and letting go.
"A beautifully acted production, directed with probing sensitivity by Anne Kauffman...How these people connect — and don’t — is given exquisitely tentative and awkward physical life...The cast is expert at conveying the self-consciousness that comes with such bumbling attempts. Each performer elicits a poignant eloquence from silence. Sometimes, though, those silences are filled with the irresistibly plaintive tones of down-home folk songs." Full Review
“Largely a convincing drama…While most moments of tension fly by on a pretty even keel, Peter Friedman really pumps up the volume. His anguish seems quite raw, and his connection to his daughters is unmistakably genuine…Director Anne Kauffman creates an entirely believable world, with enough charm and dimension. Similarly, playwright Rachel Bonds proves to be a solid writer, capable of carrying a firm story…‘Sundown, Yellow Moon’ is a hit.” Full Review
"Sadness and regret can be minefields of sentiment and navel-gazing on stage, but 'Sundown, Yellow Moon' navigates them with an invigorating lightness of touch; it is remarkable that a story so defined by disappearances, holes, and unknowns can feel so energizing. Some credit is due to the songs by The Bengsons...The building blocks of the story, on the other hand, are nothing new...Yet what sets 'Sundown, Yellow Moon' apart is a contemporary sensibility." Full Review
"It is not a bad thing that 'Sundown, Yellow Moon’s' original music by playwright Rachel Bonds and The Bengsons is memorable. The songs would overpower lesser material, but they are the invisible motivator of Bonds' powerful look at a fragile family…Director Anne Kauffman eases her standout cast through every plot and character layering...Songs express what words cannot…‘Sundown, Yellow Moon’ ends without easy answers. If it did, it would lose its voice." Full Review
"A softly-glowing night-light of a narrative, a beacon of memory illuminating a forgotten childhood hallway...Each character receives a well-developed setup which invites us into their personal experience of this particular, but nameless lost feeling...The play feels a bit more like a first act than complete gesture–the exposition is so carefully set in place and well crafted that it is a bit startling when the play ends without really knocking down anything that it set up for us." Full Review
“The acting is first-rate and the direction by Anne Kauffman is delicate and sensitive. The play, however, is like ‘The Humans’ where everybody is tightly wound and all the characters are so flawed they are all are on the verge of breaking…The cast are all excellent and thanks to Ms. Kauffman’s direction we move through a lazy, but steady pace of these disenchanting lives...Like ‘The Humans’ it seems there is very little hope for this misfit household and their acquaintances." Full Review
"Bonds knows her characters inside and out, but so do we. This coming-of-age story never really enlightens the audience with new insight...It's a shame, since there is so much promise in the work. Bonds has otherwise created a series of intriguingly flawed characters, played with nuance by the seven-member company...But the show really belongs to Friedman...Friedman's astonishing slow burn is the almost irrevocably broken heart of the entire piece." Full Review
"Rachel Bonds’s short-storyish drama has lovely moments of reconnection, rendered with aching understatement by an excellent cast...As a whole, the play—which includes several original songs by the indie-folk duo the Bengsons—is oddly shaped and weighted, with a denouement that doesn't seem supported by what proceeds it. But although it doesn’t quite come together in the end, it casts a slender, evocative light." Full Review
"The difficulty with 'Sundown, Yellow Moon' comes with the playwright’s decision not to develop her characters fully. Each appears as a snapshot of himself or herself without any deep exposition...The cast members deliver authentic performances and, although their conflicts are engaging and believable, there is not enough to drive a satisfying plot...Without that catharsis, the dramatic arc falters. Kauffman’s direction is sensitive and embraces the sensitive core of the play." Full Review
"The play's structure is unruly, with several turns of plot that are inexplicable and lots of narrative loose ends. As directed by the masterful Anne Kauffman, Bonds' dialogue sounds at crucial moments like overheard conversation. But some passages are so banal that they suggest authorial contempt for the character speaking...Kauffman and her cast do an admirable job with the script they've been given, and the effect is always engaging but seldom touching." Full Review
"With a meandering plot line and slow pacing, 'Sundown, Yellow Moon' is like a beautiful, thoughtful, but ultimately unsatisfying summer evening—one where you go to sleep with a headache, if you sleep at all...A great sense of worry pervades the show, though untethered from any real urgency it exists more as an amorphous tension and sadness...Performances are strong throughout the talented cast...The play is at its strongest when it celebrates little life moments." Full Review
“This is a quiet, drearily low-key, fitfully amusing, dramatically slender, . . . slog through a family's attempts to heal its psychic wounds...It's nice to see a play in which everyone, despite their own problems, is concerned about everyone else, but..the stakes have to be higher. In 'Sundown' no specific problem seems any more urgent than any other, and when it's all over the persons most likely not to be concerned about anyone's problems are the members of the audience.” Full Review
"'Sundown, Yellow Moon' is sadly lost, much like the characters...Packed into a single act, 'Sundown, Yellow Moon' provides insufficient information that leaves you unfulfilled...The content of Bonds' writing is beautiful. But as an overall structure of a play with a clear beginning, middle, and end, she falters...Kauffman directed the piece at a sluggish, cinematic pace. She did, however, capture the intimacy within the blooming relationships." Full Review
“Insistently, maddeningly elliptical, 'Sundown, Yellow Moon' is the stuff of a short story, or perhaps a novel -- not a satisfying drama. Everything is mentioned in passing and nothing is developed in Bond's script, with far too much of its brief, ninety-minute running time taken up with songs, by The Bengsons, which fail to illuminate the action. Anne Kauffman's direction can do nothing to impose any order on these shambling proceedings.” Full Review
See it if You like well written, thoughtful drama. This family story was moving and entertaining. The music was lovely. The acting was terrific.
Don't see it if You prefer lighthearted theater. You don't like family dramas.
See it if You want to see a unique and intimate story. All of the actors were terrific. I loved the way that music was used in the story.
Don't see it if ...You like big production values. I thought the set was very clever and was all that was needed, but it is simple.
See it if You yearn for theater that moves you, where actors live their roles and the border between theater and life dissolves in compassionate words
Don't see it if You want to sit back and be distant and observe theater as amusing or entertaining, but you don't want to be moved or touched or saddened.
See it if you don't mind a long, slow amble through a series of summer nights, in which nothing happens and everything happens and redemption happens.
Don't see it if You need a lot of plot, action or twists. This is a very low key work.
See it if You enjoy the magic of a nuanced play about life, the quiet between the big moments, and the words that are left unsaid.
Don't see it if You expect the play to be carried by more musical numbers or an in-your-face plotline.
See it if you like sensitive writing (Rachel Bond) and focus on relationships vs.plot. Strong cast, great directing...funny-sad songs by the Bengsons.
Don't see it if you want fluff or big production values. Intimate play in an intimate setting. Worth it just for the music.
See it if you like simple stories, sweetly told. Great performances and smart design make it an interesting watch.
Don't see it if ultimately, it doesn't hold together well as drama. The narrative threads don't really hold together in the end, sadly.
See it if you like thoughtful dramas that meander a bit; or think about art and the meaning of life in dramatic form.
Don't see it if you are expecting the music to push the show forward.
See it if You don't mind a play that hints at stories that never get resolved. This one explores relationships/loneliness and unrealized dreams.
Don't see it if You want action, story arcs, fast-paced drama. Don't like Southern summer nights w some folk music. I liked it by the end-it grew on me.
See it if you like exploration of character - meandering, roaming, interesting, more like an exercise than a play
Don't see it if you are looking for linear, play with a punch or a strong story
See it if You like slice of life drama's that don't resolve and have the patience of mathusala. Lovely ensemble acting, but the pace was painful.
Don't see it if You want conflict to resolve itself, appreciate reasonable pacing. You are expecting a traditional musical. The music was a "side note" ;-)
See it if great acting and beautiful staging by Anne Kaufman are enough for you to head uptown.
Don't see it if you prefer high-stake crisis over emotional and intellectual meandering. This is very meditative and less active. Lovely moments, some.
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