Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unicorn "Black Top Sky" review by Piddums

Black Top Sky shows a strong new voice
Rating: 4

BlackTop Sky
Unicorn Theatre

Antonio got tasered by the cops. When we first see Ida
(Chioma Anyanwu), she's standing in a seedy little
park, telling the story of how Antonio, a street
vendor, was first harassed, then attacked by a group of
police officers and how he's now unconscious in jail,
handcuffed to a bed. The seedy little park is the
common area of a large housing project. While she's
there, she loses her keys. And that's what complicates

When Ida comes back with her suitor, Wynn (Frank Oakley
III), they see her keys taped to the wrist of a
homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Not sure how to
approach him, Ida spends the next several scenes trying
to get the keys back. The homeless man tries to grab
her. The next time they meet, he gives her a feather.
Finally, he gives her back her keys. She finds out his
name is Klass (Tosin Morohunfola). He's taken up
residence in the courtyard, for reasons that become
clear later. He's essentially damaged. He and Ida begin
to talk. He gives her a journal he's written in. She
begins to write in it, too. Wynn starts to be concerned
about the relationship growing between his girlfriend
and this strange man the other residents are calling

That's essentially the action of the play. Christina
Anderson's three person script is a fine example of
story-telling through context. Scene changes are
indicated by lights dimming. Some scenes contain no
dialogue, they just show the characters avoiding each
other or leaving something for another character. The
characters speak when they have something to say. It is
through the well-drawn characters that we grow to
understand these characters, their need for one another
and their need to either stay or leave the projects.
All three actors work a lot around Kansas City and all
do stunning work here. Tosin Morohunfola does quiet,
seamless work as the skittish, damaged Klass, who has
returned to the one place where he came close to having
a normal life. The actor makes the character's
inability to communicate speak volumes. Chioma Anyanwu
gives a uncompromising performance of an unsure young
woman who's trying to do good, but not always able to
overcome either her fear or her selfishness. Frank
Oakley III shines in the relatively thankless role of
Wynn, a decent sort of fellow in a situation he can't

Mykel Hill focuses his direction on the acting, as well
he should as this is an actor's piece. And the action
moves quickly. Special attention should be given to the
set, lighting and sound. Gary Mosby's set looks real
and lived in, a communal space that doubles as a
garbage dump. Dan Warneke's sound brings the feel of an
oppressive noisy city and Alex Perry's lights help
establish the rhythm of the piece, helping us move
through time as the characters do. Former Kansas City,
Kansas resident Christina Anderson has a strong feel
for dialogue and character making a fertile ground for
talented actors to play. Black Top Sky is a play well
worth seeing.

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