BWW Review: RUNAWAY HOME - An Always Intense, Somewhat Touching Katrina Tale
RUNAWAY HOME/by Jeremy J. Kamps/directed by Shirley Jo Finney/The Fountain Theatre/thru November 5, 2017.
Much props must be given to Camille Spirlin for her unflinching, unapologetic portrayal of the unsympathetic, totally evil main character of Kali, of which RUNAWAY HOME revolves around. Runaway teenager Kali has no hesitation in blackmailing a Latino storekeeper, scaring an elderly neighbor with the ghost of his dead wife, slapping her mother in her face or stone-faced lying about the life or deaths of her mother and grandmother.
Playwright Jeremy J. Kamps has created the textbook-smart, yet street manipulative Kali as the center of a post-Katrina tale. Shirley Jo Finney ably directs her talented and committed cast as they suffer through the demolition of what's left of their storm-ravaged homes.
Kali runs away from her mother Eunice for reasons not revealed until late in the play. With Kali's 'F-you' attitude, it's not hard to understand Eunice's casual throwaway lines to her girlfriend Shana wishing Kali never come back.
Maya Lynne Robinson deftly captivates as Eunice, the mother who's completely fed up with her disagreeable daughter, while simultaneously still mourning the Katrina-caused death of her own mother. Robinson's wrenching scene describing her mother's body dumped overboard to make room for living survivors totally rivets. Brava, Ms. Robinson!
Karen Malina White vividly essays Eunice's best confidante Shana, a feisty, tell-it-like-it-is, got-your-back kinda friend. The front porch scenes of Robinson's Eunice with White's Shana hit all the right, intimate notes of a close friendship - through abandoned lovers, recipes, deaths and Katrina destruction. Very nice!
Leith Burke embodies the much talked about rat of a character Tat who abandoned Eunice, her mother and Kali three years prior at the onset of Katrina. You want to hate Tat, as much as Eunice and Shana trash his name. But..., once he's at Eunice's front porch, Burke's Tat manages to charm his way back into Eunice's melting heart, much to Shana's dismay.
Armando Rey subtly nails his role of grocery store owner Armando, the Latino family man saving all his earnings to bring his two daughters to America. With just cause to be suspicious, Armando accuses Kali of shoplifting from him. But as soon as Armando lets his guard down to actually hire this shoplifter, consequences take a very dark turn.
Jeris Lee Poindexter grabs the focus each time his Mr. Dee comes onstage. Poindexter effortlessly conveys Mr. Dee's hurt, loss and confusion of dealing with the double whammy of being kicked out of his home after his wife of many years left him.
Brian Tichnell's perfectly hyper as the revved-up self-titled 'anarchist' Lone Wolf. His character's the only person in this play to have the upper hand over Kali for any stretch of time lasting more than a few minutes. Lone Wolf makes Kali question herself and her purpose in life, issues not yet familiar with Kali.
After the final gunshot goes off, reality and Kali's fantasy world collide, which totally confuses this reviewer as to whether the final scene actually happened in the present, or...??? Actors crossing through Stephanie Kerley Schwartz' detailed, multi-functional, multi-locale (Armando's grocery, open debris-laden fields, and Eunice's front porch) set simply added to the puzzlement.
For tickets, log onto web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/34420.