Tuesday, February 22, 2011

theatre notes. K of D.

I'd noticed Renata Friedman in The Female of the Species at ACT last year, when she played a overwrought student who takes an iconic feminist writer hostage in her English country home. Her gangly energy (one review compared her to Olive Oyl) fueled the physical comedy around the verbal quips that ricocheted back and forth across the stage. It left me looking forward to more. When I saw that Friedman was the sole star of Seattle Repertory Theatre's production of The K of D: An Urban Legend, I knew I had to see it.

The K of D is about the mysterious events that take place in a small town over the course of a summer. A single performer inhabits over a dozen different characters, the various townspeople whose whispers build up a legend around a single, lonely girl, Charlotte McGraw, who stopped speaking the day her twin brother was hit by a car and killed. Even taller and wirier than I remembered, Friedman continuously transformed herself from one character to the next, with nothing but voice, inflection, posture, movement to mark the changes. It was staggering. Those endless arms and legs flung themselves across the stage with an electric, kinetic force, twining themselves around lampposts, gesturing with a sudden, surprising tenderness.

There was something about the play that reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird or other stories about how children - though in this case, they are teenagers - can band together with nothing much to hold them besides, perhaps, propinquity. Or a secret. Or a mystery. And how whispers can grow from a story that passes for truth, and from there, expands into a legend. The things that are clear are how the loss of your twin, your other half, can leave such an aching void in your heart that the silence can wrap itself around you, and that this silence has a kind of unshakable power.

This is the second play I've seen at Seattle Rep this season (the first was Three Tall Women) and both times I've been completely blown away. Everything was perfect - the music, the set, the actors, that intimate connection between the stage and the audience. Extraordinary things are being done here.

No comments: