Written by Joanna Rush; Directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett
Produced by 22Q Entertainment & Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 12.27.15
St. Luke's Theatre, 308 West 46th Street
by Mateus Ciucci Ferreira on 11.8.15
Joanna Rush in Kick. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
BOTTOM LINE: A tender yet powerful telling of a life lived between God, troglodytes and the search for (self)love.
Bernie O'Connell (Joanna Rush), a dancer, makes her way to her first New York audition. Tricked into a car by a most welcoming stranger and then attacked in a vacant lot off the Brooklyn Queens Expressway—sadly, a first of many attacks—Bernie goes from a kickline to A Chorus Line to Hollywood and back while attempting to put herself back together. Despite life.
Stemming from Rush's deliciously written autobiography Asking for It, Kick is a simple show that packs a punch. Maintaining the intimate tone of her bio, the show is easy to listen to and lyrically endowed. That makes for much of the show's strength. Also part of the equation Rush's seamless exchange between voices and personalities. Male and female characters appear and disappear at will and we're transported to Bernie's childhood dreams and family reunions; we hear the conservative loving views of her Irish father, we're allowed to peak backstage as she chats with her castmates, and we're given first row seats to her most intimate moments with her best friend. But more than that, the show's biggest strength lies in the treatment given to the scenes where the retelling of her abuses happen. Catching us off guard, much like victims of abuse, we're taken from the funny and light moments of Rush's life and placed at her heart of the moments when her spirit breaks the most. Joanna is able to make herself small and fragile, bringing us all along with her.
Contributing to the telling of important stories and giving space to female voices and therefore fresh perspectives on themes that most don't bother discussing or giving it the proper artistic treatment, director Lynne Taylor-Corbett allows for this intimate story to flourish and mature: exactly like Bernie O'Connell at the end of her journey when she becomes an interfaith minister and a grandmother of three.
Not only a show for women and not only focused on the abuses Bernie has suffered, Kick engulfs a minimalist and faithful portrayal of the changing of eras, of historical traumas such as the HIV/AIDS outbreak that still need healing, of moral values that linger on and become old-fashioned when out of context, of the impact strict religious up-bringing can have on a child, and of the scars done to us by individuals that seem to be scarred themselves, beyond repair.
With a few choreographed steps, little but versatile stage props by Dean Taucher, a conscientious use of lighting by Brant Thomas Murray, sound by Joachim (Yo) Horsley, and a very pragmatic costume design by Keili Murray, Kick invites the audience to share and learn from Bernie's pain and hope, and then to take a stand to change a culture that has been lingering on for far too long. Kick is a show that deserves our attendance and attentive ears, and should be brought to life in other stages besides just this one.
(Kick plays at St. Luke's Theater, 308 West 46rd Street, through December 27, 2015. The show runs 90 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Sundays at 7PM. Tickets are $39.50-$59.50 and are available at telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6300. For more information visit kicktheplay.com.)
Kick is written and performed by Joanna Rush and directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett. Lighting design is by Brant Thomas Murray. Set design is by Dean Taucher. Sound design is by Joachim (Yo) Horsley. Costume design is by Keili Murray. It is produced by 22Q Entertainment and co-produced by Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater.