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“Kill Move Paradise”: The Clouds Part, and then the Pain Comes

Review by Liz Eichler of “Kill Move Paradise”: Know Theatre

The language of Kevin Ijames’ powerful avant garde “Kill Move Paradise,” playing now through March 24 at Know Theatre, is multi-layered with poetry, songs, cries, and questions. As those layers move and shift like the clouds, then comes light, understanding, rain, anger, pain, and empathy of being an African American male in 21st century America.

The show’s fours characters enter the space individually, and take some time to discover where they are, in a kind of limbo, slowly understanding that they are recently dead.

Darnell Pierre Benjamin (Isa), has been there the longest, and was given a list of names which keeps getting longer every time he looks at it. Landon E. Horton (Grif), enters next, followed by Elliot Young (Daz), and then exploding onto the stage is Crystian Wiltshire (Tiny) bringing the biggest punch and huge amount of energy of a pre-teen boy.

The characters incredulously ask if they are in a “Twilight Zone” episode.  They also ask “Do I scare you?” Tiny makes it very clear, that as a preteen he was playing with friends and got shot, for using an obviously fake gun. The play is not about gun violence, or gun rights, but about the lives of the people whose dreams are “deferred,” permanently.

The production, directed by the mulit-talented Piper Davis, starts slow, has a few sparks of passion, then fully ignites by the time Tiny comes on stage. It takes some time for each of the characters to process their current state, and they watch and comment and prod us, watching their process, as there is no “fourth wall.” The four performers are a powerful ensemble, as they go through the stages before they finally see the light.

Scenic and lighting designer Andrew J. Hungerford has enveloped the characters in a heavenly blue and white space, , where they run, climb, crawl, and dance. Ijame’s play premiered at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre this spring. “Kill Move Paradise” runs through March 24.  Get tickets at https://knowtheatre.com/season-20/kmp/ or by calling 513-300-KNOW.