Pike Street

07/08/17

Roundabout @ Summerhall, Edinburgh

Pike Street is an ingenious monologue, written and performed by Nilaja Sun, and staged in the marvellous Roundabout pop-up theatre. It’s set on New York’s Lower East Side in the heart of a vibrant Puerto Rican community where the residents are bracing themselves for the impending onslaught of a major hurricane.

We are introduced to a whole host of characters onstage – male and female, young and old – and Sun, in a performance that can only be described as a tour de force, plays every single one of them.

We meet Evelyn, a determinedly optimistic single mother who is tasked with the monumental challenge of caring for her brain-damaged teenage daughter, Candi, a child who cannot survive without constant life support. We meet Evelyn’s father, Pappy, a hard drinking macho widower, and we meet her decorated war veteran brother, Manny, home on leave from the navy and clearly damaged by his experiences in Afghanistan. We meet Mrs Applebaum, an elderly Jewish neighbour and, in passing, a whole bunch of other friends and acquaintances. It’s really quite uncanny to witness Sun flipping effortlessly back and forth from one character to the next with such utter conviction; we really feel we are there, amidst the crowd, waiting anxiously for the hurricane to hit.

This is exciting and incendiary theatre, that will have you laughing at one moment and filling up the next.

At the play’s conclusion, Sun is given a standing ovation and I’ve rarely seen one that was more deserved. Go and see this, if only to marvel at that extraordinary performance.

4.8 stars

Philip Caveney

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