The Unicorn Theatre presented the world premiere of Christina Anderson’s play, “BlackTop Sky” on Saturday Jan. 26 in the Jerome Theatre. She attended Yale and Brown Universities in New York and was named as one of fifteen up-and-coming artists “whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come.” This homecoming for Anderson, a Kansas City, Kan. native, is the first work produced in the Kansas City area since she made her appearance on the national scene.
The play is thought provoking especially in regards to the handling of homeless persons. The play shows that though most everyone fears them to some extent, they may only want to be left alone or shown a little kindness. This is evident when Ida, played by Chioma Anyanwu, shows Klass, played by Tosin Morohunfola, kindness and he tries to hug her. She naturally feels fear and runs off.
Anyanwu does a very good job in her role as a young black woman who wants out of the projects. She has appeared previously at the Unicorn in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and with the Egad Theatre Company of Evil Dead the Musical. The range of emotions she shows from fear, to sympathy to rage is projected with ease to the audience. Though at times her character seems shallow and self-serving Anyanwu makes it work for the play.
Morohunfola is excellent in his role as the homeless man, who lives in the park outside of Ida’s home. He totally sells his part as Klass with his body language and facial expressions. In the scenes where he appears and has no lines his silence yells out his plight. Morohunfola is the founder of the Multicultural Theatre Initiative, where he has served at Artistic Director.
The character of Wynn was played by Frank Oakley III. Oakley has appeared in past performances at the Unicorn and is an undergraduate theatre performance major at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. The body language he projected showed most of his emotions, but unfortunately he showed little or no inflection in his voice. At times it sounded as if he was reading the lines and not exerting any feeling.
Though the ending is somewhat predictable it can leave one thinking that there is hope for some and that others will remain lost forever. “BlackTop Sky” runs through Feb. 10.