county of kings

Just got back from Lemon Andersen’s COUNTY OF KINGS at The Public. I was prepared to not like it, thinking it was just another solo show about identity politics and hip-hop but I was delighted to discover it was a moving, thoughtful, expertly written and performed show. Plot-wise it was somewhat familiar territory as Andersen makes his way from being the child of a drug-addicted HIV-positive mother to being a crack dealer and convicted failing to discovering his voice as a hip-hop artist. But his commanding rhymes and his stage presence make the show not only feel new but authoritative. He’s a gifted storyteller and he brings you into his world in a complicated, compassionate way.

I have to say that as much as I complain about the over-familiarity of the “hip-hop identity politics solo show” when I really reflect on it, I haven’t seen very many of them in the recent past. And Lemon’s show isn’t about identity politics, it is just a compelling personal story. I found it refreshing and exciting. I was also glad to be hearing a voice from a different background and class than so much of what is normally onstage. It really reinforced how rare it can be and how jaded so many of us theatergoers are that we can often dismiss an entire genre of work without acknowledging the complexity and variation within that genre, not to mention the necessity of bringing new voices to the stage.

The show is only playing until 11/8 so if you get a chance, go check it out. Here’s a link to FB and $25 tickets:

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