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At NKU’s “Marisol”, Expect The Unexpected. Seriously.

Review by Spenser Smith of Marisol: NKU

Marisol (Kearston Hawkins-Johnson) is a copy editor for a Manhattan publisher that lives alone in the Bronx. The action of the play begins with Marisol narrowly escaping an attack on the subway. Marisol’s guardian Angel (Je’Shaun Jackson) informs Marisol that she can no longer protect her because she has been called to join the revolution. This heavenly war has reduced NYC to an urban wasteland where homelessness is against the law and “coffee is extinct.” After a failed attempt to find protection in her co-worker and roommate June (Ashley Martin) and her brother Lenny (Calvin Taylor) Marisol finds herself on the streets. Imagine living in a world where you will be physically beaten for exceeding your credit card limit. This dystopian world is created by Jose Rivera, whose story of angels who plot to kill their old and senile God, first premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1992.

Director Daryl Harris has brought together a fine group of actors and dancers to tell this story. It would have been very easy to laugh off the absurdity of it all, but it was very evident every single person’s commitment to the truth in Marisol’s story and that power shines through. The cleverness of the set design (Anna Catton) proves that you truly can get anything from Amazon. The clever use of the boxes is not only efficient but I’m sure a comment on our singular dependence? Are the boxes God? See. You won’t leave the show humming a memorable tune, but you’ll sure be thinking. Movement, choreographed by Tracey Bonner, is not only visually captivating but provides swift transitions between time and space. Shout out to the Angels of Chaos. They stay very busy. Sound effects, designed by Kevin Havlin, are creepy throughout. The eery tones that underscore much of the dialogue perfectly set the mood. I did wish the actors would project a little more in those moments where music played during a scene. I also wanted the music to get louder during transitions. The music was creepy, but for some reason I wanted it to scare me.

The director’s program note states that Marisol is a little bit “Magical Realism, Theatre of the Absurd and Sociospatial Theatre.” I can add, simply, that it’s a play that will give you more questions than answers. Hopefully, it will make you think. More specifically, I hope it will make you think about where we are today and where we are headed in our future. Marisol found herself in a world where all the food is salt and coffee is extinct. Was it because of her choices or the choices of many? It’s not all her fault, but what could she have done to change the outcome? What can you do? Are you registered to vote?

Don’t forget. Tuesday, November 6. Marisol continues at the Stauss Theatre on the campus of Northern Kentucky University through October 28.