Keiko Green Brings Another Good One to the San Diego Stage

Sharon is a Suspenseful Piece that will Have Audiences Questioning... This World-Premiere is Currently Playing at Cygnet Theatre Until July 2 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

The Cast of Sharon. Photo by Karli Cadel Photography

I usually do not like to see a lot of information before a show in order to be as "clear-minded" as possible, not have any expectations, and get the whole experience. Once I see a show, I go into McGiver mode to pair up my impressions with the piece's history. Anyway, this preamble is because within the first 20 minutes of Sharon I was like "This is so Hitchcock" not only because of the style but because Keiko Green the playwright is in the piece a la Hitchcock with gloomy and anxiety-provoking settings. Quoting my fellow reviewer and colleague David Coddon, I completely agree that Green is "one of the most prolific and whip-smart emerging playwrights around." Her style is original, raw, and in your face. I believe this is SO needed in American theatre, especially San Diego theatre and I am glad to witness in real time the great ride Keiko is having this year from her cooky role of Annette Raleigh in God of Carnage at Backyard Renaissance Theatre to the debut of Exotic Deadly or the MSG Play at The Old Globe, to now another stellar debut with Sharon at Cygnet theatre. Once you step in, Jake (Rafael Goldstein) is seen compulsively painting a wall with a bright green color, is it coincidence that the color is the same as the playwright's last name? or am I looking too much into it? There is music playing, the song Happy Together by The Turtles in a cassette player that is losing battery so the tune turns slow and slurry, -something the current generations would NEVER understand- so it is a nice wink to us older, oldie, ones.

Keiko Green and Rafael Goldstein. Photo by Karli Cadel Photography

Yi-Chien Lee through her set design is giving us a very realistic, unkept, and cluttered apartment, with stained carpets and all, bravo to Alyssa Kane's props design, always detailed and on point,  accompanied by a queue-oriented and suspenseful lighting design by Bryan Ealey that flickers, is creepy, and gets bright each time there is a scene change guided by Steven Leffue's sound design that sends loud, short, signals that accompany the scenes. It feels like a rave sometimes, I thought that the synergy between the three creative components set, light, and sound, was so cool, that it has its own unique personality and individuality. I am not sure if Leffue is responsible for the awesome and nostalgic playlist happening before the performance and during intermission where I could also catch Brenton Wood's Give Me Some Kind Of Sign, while we were coming back from the bar getting our themed drinks, you could hear more than one person in the audience (including me) blurt out the lyrics. You see, people that do not go to the theatre because they think it is boring, do not know how to have fun. But I get caught in the emotions and am so good at digressing dear reader that I apologize, and will go back to Sharon's plot...

The lights go off and we see Sharon (DeAnna Driscoll), Jake's mom, dancing around the kitchen while preparing dinner. Jake knocks on the door and even though Sharon is aware, she waits until he opens it with his keys. An unsettled man, he comes home after work every night with a bag of groceries that he gets from his place of employment, the supermarket Jackson's. Sharon tries to interact but it has to be with pins and needles as Jake gets irritated about the smallest detail. The building where the apartment is in has been in the family for generations Jake points out. There are several messages left on the answering machine. Sabrina (Kat Peña) a social worker is checking in to see if Sharon is ok as she has been missing social activities according to her friends. Jake ignores and continues his daily trek to Jackson's where his crush and then-girlfriend Tina (Keiko Green) works as well. Sharon ventures to the supermarket and meets Tina, she decides it's a good idea to invite her over for dinner without Jake knowing. Once the planned Italian feast takes place and Tina arrives to a surprised reaction from Jake, another unexpected guest shows up, Gregg (yes with two g's) (MJ Sieberan) an associate with the local bank appears and oh boy...

DeAnna Driscoll, Rafael Goldstein.Photo by Karli Cadel Photography
Once we question what is happening, it is obvious that something is up with Sharon, Jake's charade gets the best, or should I say worst of him and the story gives the audience another impactful those of unexpectedness.

From Tina's grungy looks to Gregg's preppy nerdy one to the Jackson's work aprons,  Zoë Trautmann's costume design accentuates every character's personality and helps the audience grasp it as well. 

Keiko's multi-talent shines as the creator of this original, creepy, piece, and her acting. She is very funny and gives a thrilling performance. Rafael Goldstein is a beast. What a fantastic delivery from the voice to the deranged looks, displaying a solid histrionic discipline and formation. It was great to see DeAnna Driscoll back on a San Diego stage, she too brings in the layers and is funny. MJ Sieber who is also Keiko's husband, brings all sorts of stage weirdness to the performance and challenges the audience with a give-and-take/exchange of laughs and sillyness. Kat Peña gives us short but sweet as her role is not that big but she uses her short appearance thoughtfully.

Sharon is either a friend's Friday night out or a Sunday family, clue-type activity kind of play. And with Cygnet currently located in Old Town with the yummy food all around, this is certainly a guaranteed time out.

Take that friend or family member that is iffy about theatre and convert them today! Sharon is currently playing until July 2. Cygnet has new show times at 2pm & 7pm. For more information please click here. 

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