Short review: Prisca Jebet Kendagor is a hell of a playwright and Jake Walker is a hell of a director and the packed house was in tears when it was over.
Long Review: I had the privilege of sitting by Prisca before the show and got her permission to quote her here. I asked her about the Playwright Co-op. The Playwrights Co-Op is what is the very best about Kansas City Theatre and the Community. Prisca and Pete talked and the four playwrights – Mike Rice, Prisca Jebet Kendagor, Pete Bakely and Joshua Efron decided to pool resources and request that they share a venue and advertise together. They wanted to pool their names and help bring up Joshua Efron, who Prisca describes as “Someone to look out for.” This is what Kansas City theatre is about – not a competitive spirit, but a group of playwrights and fellow artists and playwrights wanting to group and assist another playwright with his work and help one another. I believe it help tremendously with the advertising and the word of mouth for all the works in the Co-Op.
For Kendagor, what she has created are wonderful characters that the actors have beautifully brought forth that I want to see more of. I’ll be completely honest, when I read the synopsis at first I wasn’t extremely excited – it seemed like it was going to be something topic and comedic, and something we’d seen before. However, the buzz around this show has been non stop. The buzz is due to the underlying genius of not only the tight writing, but strong characters and solid direction of the piece, which is extremely rare and difficult to pull off in a Fringe show. This one is definitely a master class.
The title is Adulting: A Parody, and the Parody part is subtle but wonderful. The play centers on a funeral, and all the friends and family coming together to work on packing the decedent’s personal belongings and reminiscing about the past. There are endless plays and movies with this premise. However, Kendagor brings the current generations into it, with Dillon’s (Roan Ricker) addictions. Angie’s (Kelsea Victoria Mclean) job and relationship issues with her fiance. Lillian (Shea Ketchum) and Angie’s romantic entanglement, Susan (Brandis Outlaw), Charles (Thomas Eric Morris), and Phillip’s (Josh Lebrun) polyamory relationship. And Kim (Av Vi Bui) and Charles’s blended family and Kim’s romantic relationship with Dillon.
All of these entanglements and conflicts are brought up quickly in the short time constraints of Fringe, while the play makes fun of the convention of characters running in and out of the room to cool off or talk to one another in private. It is nearly farcical in its delivery and blocking, with a fight breaking out in the middle which is quickly forgiven.
The only part that was muddled was when friends discussed how they had baggage from addiction before that they were able to break out of, but that Dillon’s brother was unable to shake and ultimately died from, but this topic wasn’t fully explored and was a little confusing how that related to the rest of the characters. Again, this could be a writing choice or a choice due to time. Additionally, there was a lot to explore with Angie and her complicated character that wasn’t explained that caused confusion, but that could have been due to time as well. Overall, I think the characters, and their portrayal, was wonderful and I would like to see this as a longer work, or, just an opportunity to see these actors play together again.
The last scene and last prop are killers.
I imagine you will get a chance Saturday and Sunday at the best of venue. But don’t take a chance. Order tickets now! Tonight’s show was sold out.