It is a tale of trying to make dreams a reality; a quest to seek approval from those we love and revere, and a journey that in some way, we’re all familiar with.
How We Got On reveals that growing up while hanging on to dreams isn’t easy…and that everyone’s life holds certain secrets hidden from view.
For the three teens in the play, life is a struggle as they try to fit in to their surroundings. Hank and Julian, both recent transplants from the city, are trying to make their way on “The Hill,” where, for more reasons than their skin color, they just don’t fit in.
The Selector (the impeccable Crystal Fox), is an omniscient narrator with an encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop history. She controls the scenes, schools the audience, and propels the action by playing a multitude of different characters with a seemingly effortless flip of a switch. She leads the fast-paced progression from the introduction of the individual characters in the beginning to the unbreakable unit at the end.
The underlying themes of the script, threaded through a storyline revolving around the slow advancement of rap music in the suburbs, are developed and played with witty and intelligent humor—enough so that largely over-50 and Caucasian audience was kept rolling with laughter and applauding throughout.
How We Got On is a pure delight for Gen-Xers. Those who grew up in the 1980’s will find themselves dancing in their seats to Salt-n-Peppa and NWA while chuckling frequently at mentions of frozen Cokes, Jordan shoes, MTV Raps and boomboxes.
The play is just plain good. Brian Quijada (Julian, aka, Vic) has vicious comic timing, and the friendship that develops between his character and Hank (Terrell Donnell Sledge) evokes the friendships we all remember from our past.
The ensemble cast gives a strong showing; their sense of rhythm, not only in the music, but in each other, leads to a tight performance with the actors not missing a beat.
Whether you go to How We Got On for the laughs, the music, the poetry or to watch the journey of three teenagers trying to find their way, just go.
Then, in a few years, when this play is a sensation across the country (and it will be), you can say, “Yep. I remember that.”
In more ways than one.
How We Got On by Idris Goodwin and directed by Wendy C. Goldberg continues with the Humana Festival of New American Plays through April 1, at various dates and times. Tickets start at $25 for a single show, but can be purchased in multi-show passes as well.
How We Got On playwright and award-winning essayist Idris Goodwin will give a spoken word demonstration at Actors Theatre on March 17. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved in advance.
Tickets for all Humana Festival events are available online or by calling the box office at 502-584-1205.
Image: Courtesy Actors Theatre