Kentucky

Theater, Drama
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Kentucky: Theater review by Jenna Scherer

Despite the familiar platitude hanging over the set, there's nothing sweet about home in Kentucky. Leah Nanako Winkler's play follows Hiro (Satomi Blair), an acerbic New Yorker who returns home to the Bluegrass State with an agenda: to put the kibosh on her sister's (Sasha Diamond) wedding while avoiding the landmines of her past—like her fraught relationships with her abusive dad (Jay Patterson) and brittle mom (Ako). It's no wonder she's got her therapist on speed dial.

Winkler writes in a heightened style; Kentucky's affectations include aGreek chorus of bridesmaids and a house cat played by a human man. 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.—Jenna Scherer

Ensemble Studio Theatre (Off Broadway). By Leah Nanako Winkler. Directed by Morgan Gould. With Satomi Blair, Ako, Sasha Diamond. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.

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