Thursday, February 23, 2017

Kid Victory

Disconcerting and Disquieting: Kid Victory Is Good But Isn’t Easy

Kid Victory is the new musical from John Kander and Greg Pierce at the Vineyard Theater, and it is a doozy. It’s best to deal with the biggest item up front – this is NOT a musical that everyone will love.
Brandon Flynn
It is a fairly up and perky musical about a terribly conflicted story. Kid Victory is the story of Lucas’ reactions, upon his return to his family after being held in captivity for a year by a psychotic and probable sex criminal.

Yeah, there’s that. 
Brandon Flynn plays Lucas with fantastic depth, not just when acting but in reacting and even in repose. It is not the type of story one expects in a musical. Worse, there is the additionally layering of the fact that Lucas was flirting with the assailant before he was abducted - which isn’t the type of grey area normally explored in happy musicals.
The viewer’s ability to live with that particular story in a musical will define if you like the Kid Victory or not.  If you find the idea offensive, you might not be able to get past it. I very nearly walked out early, but I am glad I didn’t.
Kid Victory follows Lucas’ return to his home and small hometown after the experience. His parents (Karen Ziemba and Daniel Jankins) are dealing with his return, by not dealing with the experience. They try to help integrate him immediately back into his old life, which is impossible. His old friends and church acquaintances, which have taken on a large part of his parents’ life since his abduction, offer, too enthusiastically, to help. It is more than he can take.
Lucas takes a job with the town Bohemian, Dee Roscioli as Emily. Here he finds a sanctuary and friend. Little by little, we learn what happened to Lucas.  He meet a man in an online game, Michael (wonderfully creepy Jeffry Denman). The fact that Lucas met him willingly, although didn’t go with him willingly, is at the root of Lucas’ inability to deal with the abduction. There was also the unspoken, but obvious sexuality that was assumed in their meeting.
Kander and Pierce’s music is oddly out of place, and yet perfect for Kid Victory. Some numbers are whimsical and others are love songs of yearning, completely at odds with each other and the reactions we should have. They adds to the emotional dissonance of Kid Victory, which keeps the viewers from ever really being comfortable. For example, after some of the songs, the audience really wants to applaud, but is it appropriate to applaud in this environment?
Brandon Flynn and Dee Roscioli
Director Liesl Tommy has handled a truly odd show deftly. I can’t imagine Kid Victory ever finding a large audience, but I thought that about Next To Normal so my radar on that isn’t great. Ultimately, Kid Victory is a very good show, but not a great one - and I fear a great one would be needed to overcome the audience's squeamishness about the topic.
Kid Victory at The Vineyard Theater| Playwrights: Music and Lyrics: John Kander and Greg Pierce | Director: Liesl Tommy | Cast: Ann Arvia, Joel Blum, Laura Darrell, Jeffry Denman, Brandon Flynn, Daniel Jenkins, Dee Roscioli, Karen Ziemba, Blake Zolfo

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