Friday, December 18, 2015

Reviewed in Brief: Purple Cloud

Every now and then a little show comes along that captures your heart. 

So is the case with Purple Cloud, a new, original piece being performed through Mu Performing Arts at the Mixed Blood Theatre.

Written by Jessica Huang, Purple Cloud details the ways that myth and history combine to create our family stories, and how important those stories are to understanding our own identities. Every family has some kind of legend passed on, about someone; Purple Cloud takes those legends and imbues them with life, making a wholly original piece that touches on identity, disorientation, fear, bravery, ingenuity, and so many other things. Purple Cloud is a truly American story and one we need more of; in a time when xenophobia is at an all-time high, it is more important than ever to share stories of our commonalities, our humanity, and our spirits.

Three generations are featured in Purple Cloud: the family's ancestors (four jade pieces played spunkily by Jeannie Lander, Kylee Brinkman, Stephanie Bertumen, and Audrey Park) and Grandfather Lee Huang (Alex Galick); Hapa Girl (Meghan Kreidler); and her father, Orville Huang (Rich Remedios). The cast is entirely solid and moves fluidly between scenes, generations, and stories. Their swift interaction is part of what makes the show so engaging, and it's awesome to have such relatable portrayals of multiple generations, cross genders, etc. on-stage. There is also a lot of gender and character switching, and it's totally effective, proving that anyone should be able to play a part, as long as they can act it well.

Part of Purple Cloud's charm is that it's not over-produced. Sets, lights, and costumes are simple, but leave room for the imagination and still evoke an appropriate setting. My only quibble is that I'd have loved to see something more elaborate for the jade piece costumes (maybe some masques?), but due to the versatility required by each actor playing multiple roles, I understand why they kept things simple.

Purple Cloud is a beautiful play, with the rare kind of script that strikes you instantly with the excellence of its writing. The two hour show time flies by (interspersed with the option of buying some delicious fried rice at intermission!), and it's an awesome way to shake the winter doldrums. It's only running for a few more days, so make sure you go before it closes. What a charming, heartwarming way to end the year.

For more information, please click on this link.