Lesbian love is portrayed with devastating beauty in Cardboard Piano by Hansol Jung at Park Square. The romantic lead actresses Adelin Phelps and Kiara Jackson create a chemistry that might just take your breath away. The play begins with a secret wedding ceremony in a church between two teenaged girls: Chris (Phelps), the daughter of a white American missionary, and Adiel (Jackson), a local Ugandan villager.
The risk is great as the wages of same sex love are death in a culture fabled for its homophobia. These stakes are viscerally realized throughout by director Signe V. Harriday with gripping fight choreography by Annie Enneking.
Jackson brings endearing vulnerability to Ariel and winning vibrancy to another role she plays in Act II as a conservative pastor’s wife. Phelps, who plays Chris from start to finish, gives a breakthrough performance that is perhaps this actress’s best work yet. Not because of the type of character she plays, but because of the dark night of the soul Chris traverses during the course of the drama.
As expected, charismatic Ansa Akyea delivers yet another rich and nuanced performance as the previously mentioned pastor. Michael Jemison is also terrific in two supporting roles that aid in fleshing out this turbulent tale. Cardboard Piano is among the finest plays of our time, and though Jung’ s view is a tragic one, the playwright from South Korea laces her work with warm humor.
Park Square Theatre, 20 W. Seventh Pl., St. Paul