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  Kentucky Reviews

The Gift Theatre at Theater Wit
Thru - Nov 23, 2019

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The Gift Theatre at Theater Wit

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...Winkler takes ideas from Greek tragedies (like a hero's journey and a Greek chorus) and modernizes them, combining the idea of a tragic hero with her life experience, herself being from Japan and Kentucky."
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Jerald Pierce

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...This is a strangely hopeful play about people who have largely given up on hope but haven't fully given up on each other. As the two singers who serve as choral figures croon early on, "These people have shaped you. These people are horrible. These people are lovely. You are lovely and horrible." Chika Ike's carefully calibrated staging mostly finds the lovely horrible truths about this fractured but far from stereotypical family."
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Kerry Reid

Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...Winkler endows her oft-misrepresented characters with unprejudiced warmth and compassion almost, but not quite, eclipsing the profound intelligence reflected beneath its sometimes-giddy presentation, so pay attention, you all."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...There are so many moving parts on stage, it is a wonder that director Chika Ike is able to keep everything in check. That she is able to do so while at the same time keeping the action moving is a testament to her talent. The only criticism worth mentioning is that the second act is nowhere near as powerful as the first. That sentiment though is more a testament to just how good the first half is than anything else, including an ending that is almost a PSA about the dangers of toxic masculinity. That the play ends less dramatically does nothing to blunt the stark reminder that, in the end, maybe all we can hope for is to be a little less alone. You might not be able to ever truly come home again, but then again why would you want to?"
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Noel Schecter

Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...Director Ike takes advantage of the variety of characters and dialogue in the two families represented and treats all of them, including the born-again Christian characters, with respect. I have one caveat with the script, the direction and performance. D’Addario as Hiro’s father James is a cardboard redneck and deserves to be presented more three dimensionally."
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Nancy Bishop

Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...Leah Nanako Winkler’s Kentucky, now playing at Theater Wit in a production by The Gift Theatre, is a remarkable meditation on the nature of happiness and success: what does it mean? who gets to determine it? is it the same for everyone? In this sometimes funny and often poignant play punctuated by music, Winkler makes the argument that no one’s definition is universal through a focus on an event that most people would describe as happy: a wedding."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...These are top-notch performances all (Director: Chika Ike). And though this reviewer adored the script, it did admittedly elicit a few HUH? thoughts here and there, such as when the action pauses into a dance of sorts. These interludes perhaps just remind us of our hunger for the meatier moments of the performance and script, of which there is no shortage."
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Amy Munice

Rescripted- Recommended

"...Ultimately, Kentucky ends up being a thoroughly satisfying evening because it forces Hiro to reckon with lessons we could all find useful. As her attempts to sabotage the wedding become more and more farcical, we begin to see that this past which she has so thoroughly divorced herself from has more sway over her than she thinks. Hiro explains at length her rightful hate for her abusive father — but the more control she tries to exert over her sister and mother under the guise of helping them, the more she sees her father’s dysfunctional tendencies shining through in her own behavior."
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Aaron Lockman