Author Archive for: ‘KedarAdour’

Pike Street is a virtuoso performance by Nilaja Sun at Berkeley Rep.

Nilaja Sun incorporates shelves of lighted candles in her one-woman “Pike St.” performance at the Berkeley Rep. Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Pike Street: Dramatic Monolog by Nilaja Sun. Directed by Ron Russell.  Berkeley Rep: Peet’s Theatre, 2015 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA. (510) 647-2949 or

November 17-December 16, 2018

Pike Street is a virtuoso performance by Nilaja Sun at Berkeley Rep.

It was ten years ago that Nilaja Sun captivated the Berkeley Rep audiences with her impressive solo performance of No Child.. It was noted that referring to that production as a “solo performance” was inappropriate since she portrayed a stage full of characters. So it is with Pike Street where she brings to life three generations of a Puerto Rican family and local neighbors living closely together on Pike Street under the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. It is 2012 and Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the East Coast.

That family is the Vegas. Evelyn is a single parent caring for Candi a teenaged daughter who is incapacitated by a brain malfunction leaving her unable to speak and requires a respirator. Evelyn has given up her job as a subway conductor to look after Candi. Her dead mother was a Faith healer who ran a small botanica that closed after her death leaving the family dependent on the money younger soldier brother Manny has been sending home from Afghanistan. It just happens that Manny is coming home today.

Poppy Vega the father is addicted to playing “the numbers” and spends his money on a series of women. His latest is Migdalia who demands $50 from him. When Manny arrives there are family differences causing strain in their relationship. The tension is further complicated by the arrival of Manny’s buddy Tariq who pushes weed and wants to hear about the hot Taliban women Manny may have seduced.

We briefly meet the Yemeni proprietor of a corner store who unwittingly provokes Manny’s anguished memories of bomb-throwing jihadists, and a neighborhood kid enthralled of Manny the war hero he saw on TV.

The final, and probably the most rounded character Sun has created is neighbor and slightly senile Mrs. Applebaum who thinks Martin Luther King is still alive. She also welcomes Evelyn to New York from Puerto Rico even though she had assisted in Evelyn’s birth!

Yes, Ms. Sun’s plays all these characters recreating appropriate diction and speech patterns using body language, facial expressions and arm movements expertly bringing individualism to the polyglot accents of the Hood. The entire production demands your attention since the words and inflections are at times partially unintelligible because of the speed needed to adjust to two or three characters speaking to each other. The power of the performance captivates the audience that she brings them into Pike Street by engaging us with the suggestion that they clap and say “Ahh” at appropriate intervals.

The evening starts with Evelyn on the telephone to Con Ed asking for a generator that will be needed if the electricity goes out as it did during a previous storm. Throughout the 80 minutes the threat of the hurricane hovers over the evening and there will be need for the two banks of white candles that frame to bare stage. The sound and light cues are additive to the buildup of nature’s impending fury.

There is abundant humor throughout the play that does not foretell the shocking ending. Pike Street is a must see performance that can be appreciated on many levels.

CREATIVE TEAM: Scenic Design Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams; Costume Design Clint Ramos; Lighting Design Tyler Micoleau; Sound Design Ron Russell; Stage Manager Michael Suenkel

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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