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 Editor's Picks

Shows Worth Seeing:

Ohio State Murders
By Adrienne Kennedy
The Duke on 42nd St.
229 W. 42nd St.

Some plays are written with dauby water-color brushes, others with light pencil or crayon. Kennedy’s Ohio State Murders is written with a razor-sharp steel-tipped pen. On first appearance a relatively conventional story of a prominent black writer’s recollections of racist violence during her college days, the play comes off as thoroughly unconventional by the end and, with its devastating revelations and terrible immanent wrongs, acquires almost a tragic dimension. Through subtle, efficient and clever means, the play’s writer-narrator turns the tables on those who naively invited her back to her alma mater to speak about “violent imagery” in her work, spinning a tale chillingly close to home. This is the most unsentimental play about the death of children I know of, and it’s one of the most unflinching views of creative survival and self-discovery in dramatic literature. Lisagay Hamilton gives a superb performance in the lead role in this Theatre for a New Audience production directed by Evan Yionoulis. Hamilton sinks into open emotionality only when absolutely necessary and finds just the right awkward balance of spontaneity and artificiality to make clear she is composing as she speaks, preparing to speak rather than delivering a speech. This is a rare chance to see this disturbing and unforgettable gem of a play. Just go.

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