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Theater Review: 'Closely Related Keys' At The Lounge Theatre

Ashley Velez |
March 9, 2014 | 5:01 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Diarra Kilpatrick and Yvonne Huff deliver tear-jerking performances to end the play. (Ed Krieger)
Diarra Kilpatrick and Yvonne Huff deliver tear-jerking performances to end the play. (Ed Krieger)

Discussing global issues through a political lens has desensitized much of the American public. It is easy to forget that every human being experiences love, loss and pain despite national ties and cultural identities. 

Wendy Graf’s “Closely Related Keys,” does a fantastic job at breaking down cultural stigmas through the human experience. Directed by NAACP Image Award-winner Shirley Jo Finney, the play is centered on an African-American lawyer named Julia (Diarra Kilpatrick), who is living in New York City post-9/11. It is now 2010, before the capture of Osama Bin Laden, and Julia has pushed her feelings about the event to the wayside as she works her way up in her career. However, every belief that she has held on to is challenged when she finds out that she has a half-sister in Iraq who is coming to New York.  

The opening of the play immediately grabs the audience’s attention with a steamy sex scene between Julia and Ron (Ted Mattison). Despite having a small and limited set, the actors are able to successfully take the audience to Iraq, New York, and every other place the viewers needed to be. The play is also loaded with intense visual projections that help flawlessly transport the audience from one place to another. 

“Closely Related Keys” strikes every chord of human emotion while adressing themes like death, love, betrayal, and cultural stereotypes. Yvonne Huff gives an impressive performance as Neyla after having just stepped into the role a week before its debut. Both Huff and Kilpatrick deliver emotion filled dialogue that literally bring tears to the audience’s faces on numerous occasions throughout the performance. 

The play also forces the audience to grapple with their own beliefs and stereotypes regarding American and Iraqi relations while the actors do the same on stage. Not only is “Closely Related Keys” sentimental, but it is also very informative about the dark times that followed the attacks on the Twin Towers. 

The colors black, white and red play a large role in the theme of the play. The set (by Hana Sooyeon Kim) is coordinated with these three colors and Julia’s attire (by Naila Aladdin Sanders) also follows this color scheme. It reminds the audience that these serious issues are never merely black and white. The red can be seen as a metaphor for the blood that unites Julia and Neyla, and also represents the senseless bloodshed on the American homefront and Iraqi soil. Music also plays a large role throughout the play and is also presented as an opportunity to bridge the gap between cultures. 

The dialogue throughout the play is sharp and successfully brings the audience through the emotional ringer. “Closely Related Keys” is truly a theatrical gem. 

 “Closely Related Keys” is playing through March 30th at the Lounge Theatre (6201 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood). Tickets are $25 - $30. For more information visit Plays 411.

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Reach Staff Reporter Ashley Velez here



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