Ensemble Studio Theatre presents Leah Nanako Winkler's new play about a New Yorker who returns to her home state of Kentucky to try to prevent her born-again sister from marrying at 22. More…
Hiro has to stop her baby sister from marrying a man she hardly knows, but that means returning to Kentucky and the home she’s put behind her. During Hiro’s quest, she will confront forgotten friends, former flames, and the family she fled. Will she be able to save her sister and escape back to Manhattan, or will years of therapy be undone by a single wedding weekend back in her old home?
“There is an excitement and charm to Nanako Winkler's language. The accessibility draws an immediate bond with the audience...'Kentucky' was sublimely constructed and adoringly envisioned. Director Morgan Gould infused a spark of life in her staging, keeping the play moving, driving excitement and soul in every beat...'Kentucky' has not only put Leah Nanako Winkler on the map but ensured her as an important player in contemporary theater.” Full Review
"Ms. Blair and the brilliant ensemble cast of 'Kentucky' bring Hiro’s quest to a level of believability and authenticity while managing to allow the playwright’s humor and magical realism to counterpoint the dramatic arc of the story...America’s population is widely different and often unyielding in accepting differences in ideology, culture, and religion. 'Kentucky' places these issues in a framework accessible to a diverse audience...'Kentucky' resonates with the sweet bitterness of honesty." Full Review
"Ms. Winkler proves to be a master at combining genres that would feel disjointed if used by lesser writers. She is a keen observer of human nature who captures violence, pain and sorrow with honesty, but can’t help but offer us a glimpse of empathy and endless wonder. If by the end of the play, Hiro is still feeling out of place, it’s clear that Ms. Winkler has found her home, and one hopes she’ll stick around for a very long time." Full Review
"An evening of flat-out hilarity...With all elements under Morgan Gould’s direction, Katie Spelman’s choreography and Sariva Goetz’s music direction and vocal arrangements add to the overall excellence of this production...The play, which on one hand is a comedic romp, also offers food for thought on a variety of important topics. 'How will this fadge?' as one of Shakespeare’s heroines once questioned. So see the play. I highly recommend it." Full Review
“Winkler’s dialogue floats between realistic and poetic without whiplash, and serves both whirlwind Hiro and the drawls of everyone around her....The large and refreshingly diverse ensemble is full of actors I’ve loved in other shows recently...Megan Hill, manages to steal all her scenes...Ultimately, this is a play about moving forward.” Full Review
"'Kentucky' is a riff on the family play, the homecoming play, the coming-of-age play and also occasionally a musical. The style is what a naturalistic play might look like after several pitchers of juleps...Under Morgan Gould’s energetic though sometimes frenetic direction, the characterizations flirt with stereotype and elements of the action feel less than credible...But if the script is overstuffed, 'Kentucky' marks the full-length debut of a distinctive new voice." Full Review
“The characters are living cartoons, delivering lines—under Morgan Gould's direction—at a manic pitch. When it works, the show's voice is refreshing and witty; when it doesn't, it takes on the puffed-up dimensions of a soap opera. Too often, Winkler makes the subtext text, not giving the audience a chance to draw its own connections. There's a fresh, affecting play mixed in with all the filler. But, like its heroine, ‘Kentucky’ still has some growing to do.” Full Review
"Winkler is a nervy and sometimes witty writer, but hasn't provided a foundation that can accommodate screwball comedy plotting, ugly family confrontations, and dashes of Southern Gothic eccentricity...At least, the director, Morgan Gould, has signed up a personable and talented cast...By turns giggly, sentimental, and brutal, 'Kentucky' is a pretty unpalatable mashup of styles and tones, none of which are enough to freshen up its well-worn you-can't-go-home-again theme." Full Review
See it if you want to be introduced to a new playwright, Leah Nanako Winkler. Also, if you like comedy mixed with moving moments.
Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with the themes of abuse and born-again Christianity.
See it if This play was absolutely amazing, and had an amazing set of actors. Intense! Keeps you intrigued throughout the 2 hours. Really great work!
Don't see it if You cannot handle intense topics about family, abuse, and unresolved endings. Def a must see though.
See it if You like complicated family dramas that aren't confined to living rooms and don't offer clearly drawn lines of right and wrong.
Don't see it if You have a hard time with plays that switch between multiple modes -- realistic, fanciful, musical, direct address.
See it if You like shows about people returning home to the lives & people they left behind, with great use of music, good acting and a talking cat.
Don't see it if You don't think a talking cat belongs in a show about coming of age and returning home.
See it if You want to experience a fresh new voice in the theatre. Some really beautiful writing + emphatic characters, makes for a great evening!
Don't see it if You are not into stylized (but not heavy-handed) theatre. It's a couple ticks amped up from naturalism, which *I* personally enjoy.
See it if - you like original theater that's still in development - you've gone home after moving to nyc - you'd enjoy a cat with a full character arc
Don't see it if - you like classic works - you're looking for a polished product - you want a clear cut happy ending - you're easily uncomfortable by quirks
See it if You like diverse casts, funny but believable story, family sagas, satiric but warm look at evangelicals, family violence & Good oil' boys
Don't see it if Humor, drama & the absurd turn you off, family violence and treating fundamental Christianity with satire turns you off
See it if you are interested in seeing a both funny and thought provoking play. Unfortunately the play never becomes as smart as it would like to be.
Don't see it if you're not willing to accept this show's noticeable flaws and roughly extra 15/20 minutes of extra writing.
See it if you are looking for something intense but with comedy to balance it out. I personally related to this story so I was moved by the story
Don't see it if you don't like comedy mixed with drama.
See it if You can bear a play that has a few funny moments and good performances but has stereotypical characters, trite monologues and needs editing
Don't see it if You do not want to see a poorly written play that needs a great deal of work
See it if you want to support emerging voices in the theatre, regardless of how much maturing they need.
Don't see it if you have little patience for overlong, self-indulgent, scattershot plays by young artists in need of a red pen and better focus.
See it if You crave diversity on the stage, enjoy hillarious yet moving writing and daring direction. Unlike anything Ive ever seen before.
Don't see it if You're unwilling to see something a little different.
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