Review | Interstate: love and music on the open road

Sushma Saha and Kai Alexander Judd in INTERSTATE.

Interstate (Mixed Blood Theatre, through March 29) contains a standout performance: Sushma Saha as the young woman chafing in a small (and very conservative) American town, struggling to become Henry, to “man up,” to become who she really is. Saha makes you feel her desperate loneliness, her pain. When she covers her breasts, tightly, with duct tape I cringed.

Moreover, Saha can sing, beautifully. She has a powerful and very distinctive voice (to match her performance). Whenever she was onstage, I perked up. This young woman moved me and, unless you have severe personal problems, she will move you. See Interstate. See Saha’s exquisite work.

The rest of the play? Pretty good, though be forewarned: Interstate is an identity drama. It’s about two musically gifted artists who hit the road (“Good-bye former life, hello open road.”) in order to unpack their “neat little boxes of gender and sexuality.” Their music touches a nerve and they manage to become insanely successful, though their healing (the play makes this clear) presence is very nearly undone by their internecine squabbling.

Performers Kai Alexander Judd and Rose Van Dyne play these roles (Dash and Adrian) with verve and power. They are aided enormously by some tasty music created by Melissa Li and poet Kit Yan. Li and Yan also wrote the book, FYI.

Director Jesca Prudencio has assembled everything into a slick, clutch-popping production. The secondary cast – Lily Tung Crystal, Brian Kim, Zeniba Now, Meredith Casey, Tom Reed – is excellent.

If the concerns of Interstate resonate with you, or if you like marvelous performances (such as that turned in by Sushma Saha), then you must see this play.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. John’s The Voice Of The Prairie has been performed 100 plus times and ditto Minnesota Moon and his adaptation of Sideways Stories From Wayside School. His The Summer Moon won a Kennedy Center Award For Drama. John has won fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the McKnight Foundation and from the National Endowment For The Arts. Please visit his informational website.


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