By Jody Key -Managing Editor
Lawrenceville Suwanee is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the Southeast. Therefore, it is fitting for the Aurora Theatre to showcase diverse talents. They’ve done this beautifully in the past with their multi-ethnic casts in Les Miserables, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Newsies. I’ve enjoyed seeing this diversity on stage as this isn’t something that is always evident in theater productions. Their latest studio production, The Two Kids That Blow Sh*t Up opened this past weekend and is the second installment in their incredible season.
Two Kids is a play by Los Angeles playwright Carla Ching and explores the lives of two friends, Diana (played by Vivi Thai) and Max (played by Jack Ha). The two meet as 9 years old under interesting circumstances. While they are outside at what is presumably a public function building snowmen, Diana’s dad is wooing Max’s mother. Diana explains to Max that her mother is away working with Doctors Without Borders, while Max rigs a small explosive device to blow his snowman up. So begins the first of many montages of the lives of Diana and Max. Cautious Diana with her practical outlook on life, and enthusiastic Max with his fascination with pyrotechnics. The montages are presented in non-chronological order but in such a way that connections are made for the audience to follow. While these characters are Asian American, in their lives we can see glimpses of our own, regardless of our ethnicity. We share their happiness and their pain, their highs and their lows from age 9 to 38 we see how their relationship evolves and changes.
Director Pam Joyce’s vision for this show was unique and contemporary. Technical aspects of this show are spectacular and work well to help tell the story. The studio is transformed into a theater in the round, with what appears to be geometric abstract art on each wall. This artwork lends itself to projections that work as continuity between scene changes and allow the audience to know the ages of the characters prior to each scene. The projections then become part of the scenery. A revolving stage with cabinets and doors to hold props makes for interesting and quick scene changes.
Vivi Thai and Jack Ha carry this show so well and rise to the daunting task of portraying their characters at different ages that jump around from one scene to the next. They are as convincing at 9 years of age as they are at 27, 17, 38, 11, or whatever age they happen to be playing for each particular scene. Their performances are genuine and believable.
Impressive and key-noteworthy were the number of quick wardrobe changes they endured. Special Kudos to Costume Designer Jae Hee Kim–This may sound trivial, but in addition to Vivi’s wardrobe, I especially loved Vivi’s taste in shoes–each pair was spectacular and stunning.
If you enjoy straight plays and love seeing them in an intimate setting, you’ll love Two Kids That Blow Sh*t Up. It plays at the Aurora Theatre Studio until September 30th. Don’t miss this show! Also, remember if you are aged 19-35, you can take advantage of discount ticketing using TIXTER on the Aurora website. Get your tickets today at http://www.auroratheatre.com/.
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