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EMAV Review: 'Kid Sister' a pulp thriller at Majestic Rep

★★★★☆ - Delicious

This thrilling Southern Gothic-noir is a new spin on classic dime store crime novels and wins a Delicious Four Stars in its regional premiere!

Demi Williams, a sexy 19-year-old single mom and 'American Idol' wannabe, believes only one thing stands between herself and singing superstardom — her stalker, ex-boyfriend, Kendall Fritch. To get this psycho out of her life forever, she elicits the aid of her brother Cassius, recently returned from a stretch in Florida's Gainesville Prison. But ex-con Cassius wants more than she's willing to give — custody of her newborn baby girl (nicknamed “Britney Fergie”). This pulp thriller tells the story of a deadly ambitious sister who stops at nothing on her quest for musical stardom as well as her kind-but-cunning brother's desperate shot at redemption.

Of its world premiere at Profiles Theatre in Chicago (2010), Marla Seidell of Centerstage wrote:

In the manner of a Greek tragedy, the battle becomes who can manipulate the other first, with siblings fighting each other for their lives… displaying the raw and complex emotions of a caring brother desperate to save his baby niece from his sister’s negligent care – a young woman who weaves twisted webs because she’s never had enough real love.

In the capable hands of director Troy Heard, this young cast brings tremendous depth to their socially impaired characters. Bobby Lang (Cassius) strongly shows just how far co-dependent family obligations can lead one away from oneself. Aviana Glover (Demi) succeeds in convincing us of her craziness: in love with her brother, on the run from deranged baby daddy Kendall (portrayed by Cory Covell), and making boyfriend Babe (played by R.J. Viray) into her slave. Natalie Senecal is both serious and sultry as Greta.

The set, by The Design Ninjas, convincingly highlights the small, cramped, steamy lodgings of Cassius’ apartment in humid, subtropical Tampa, FL. McKenna Roundy’s contemporary costumes are appropriate for both the characters and the climate. Unfortunately, the sound design (by Coral Benedetti) was poorly synchronized in attempting to cover scene changes and lighting (by Cory Covell) was often too dark and inconsistent to distinguish between daytime and evening scenes.

This drama reminded many audience members that I spoke with of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child, winner of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama which launched Shepard to national fame as a playwright. At its core, Buried Child tells another story of the breakdown of a traditional, twentieth-century family that has fallen into total dysfunction. Like so many explorations of family, this drama reveals the cracks and problems inherent among blood relatives. Despite the eventual deterioration depicted here, most folks never completely turn their back on the tightly knit bond that keeps families together, for better or worse.

Kid Sister, by Will Kern, at Majestic Repertory Theatre, continues through Oct. 15th, Thursday – Saturday at 8pm; Sundays at 5pm

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