“it’s not a trip it’s a journey” Takes Us To More Places Than You’d Imagine
Review by Katrina Reynolds
Once again, Know Theatre is offering audiences a rolling world premiere from the National New Play Network with its production of “it’s not a trip it’s a journey.” For those who might not know, a rolling world premier supports three or more theatres that choose to mount the same new play within a 12 month period. This is done to allow the playwright to develop a new work with multiple creative teams in multiple communities.
Playwright Charly Evon Simpson brings us the tale of June (Jasimine Bouldin), someone who needs to go on a journey and convinces her friends Frankie (Angelique Archer), Rain (A.J. Baldwin), and Willie (Ariel Mary Ann) to join jet on a road trip out west. As with most cross-country journeys, getting there proves to be an adventure all in itself. Director Daryl Harris creates many beautiful stage pictures and expertly uses the entire stage area in each scene. Harris clearly knows the meaning of the word “static” and his choice of blocking would never be described as such. This is also helped along with choreography by Kim Popa. However, given that the script is a lot more about dialogue and character connection than action, pacing is rather sluggish and could use a bit more urgency.
Lighting & Scenic Design by Andrew J. Hungerford coupled with Sound & Projections Design by Douglas H. Borntrager offer some visually compelling moments. The use of projections enhanced, but does not ever distract from the activities on stage. Lighting used during monologues where the audience is brought into a dream-like interpretation of the actor’s words in particular is both complementary and demanded attention. The creativity used in both sound and lighting design make the play a bit grander in scale in all the right ways.
As usual, Jasimine Bouldin is impossible to ignore. Ms. Bouldin has not only the gift of delivering dialogue as though it is her own words and not something she has memorized off a page, but she draws attention in all the right ways. She never steals focus, but is always reactive and utterly human and this reviewer is constantly in awe of her talent. Ms. Bouldin is likable, even when she’s not. Not to be outdone, A.J. Baldwin gives a strong and believable performance as the emotionally-charged Rain. Ms. Baldwin is another artist who draws the audience in with her relatability and truth in her character execution.
As with any new work, sometimes the script could use a bit more polish. While the story is summarized as “a play about tumbleweed, friendship, being black, and needing to soothe something you don’t always have words for,” I daresay we can all relate to something we learn on this journey.
“it’s not a trip it’s a journey” runs through October 9. Know Theatre of Cincinnati features several pricing levels to support your local artists including discounted tickets on Wednesdays through The Welcome Experiment. To purchase tickets, visit https://www.knowtheatre.com/tickets/.
Katrina “Kat” Reynolds is a local performing artist and directress. She serves as the copy editor for Rob Bucher’s Behind The Curtain Cincinnati. Her company, Harley Quinn Studios, produces old-timey radio show content and provides the place “where the voices in your head come to play”.