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November 12, 2013
Review: Ashé
(L to R) Keith Antone, Dennis Vargas, Lori McNally, Edwin Matos Jr. Photo Credit: Martha Granger
(L to R) Keith Antone, Dennis Vargas, Lori McNally, Edwin Matos Jr. Photo Credit: Martha Granger

"Ashé" is hands down one of the best plays this season.

UP Theater Company brings this top notch play, directed by the richly talented David Mendizábal and written by recent NYU graduate Ricardo Pérez González, to the neighborhood of Washington Heights.  The fantastically fierce Keith Antone plays Javier, who wakes up from a haunting dream that sends him to his altar to pray.  A knock on the door heralds the arrival of a stranger (Johnny, intuitively embodied by Edwin Matos, Jr.), and a connection sparks between the two men that will change them both forever: they are lost fraternal twins.  As the play continues, the two try to come to terms with signs that seem to predict something bad to pass; soon, the stakes are raised to life or death for the two brothers along with their lovers Indio (Dennis Vargas) and Kristin (Lori McNally, full of pixie charm).

Pérez González gives these characters so much to fight for and love most people can only fantasize about having.  He uses poetic language to depict their relationships, with a fervid metaphor to describe the love shared between lovers Javier and Indio.  (Vargas speaks full of reverence: "Javi is the ocean, and I'm the ship.")  Over the course of the play, Pérez González gives each of these characters moments of redemption, allowing a blanket of healing to drape over the entire audience.

In a sacred space of Upper Manhattan's St. Jude Cultural Center (which was once a church), this amazing team of artists have created a piece of theater that will forever be etched into my brain.  Mar Urrestarazu (Scenic Design) has produced a beautifully ornate set that Mendizábal takes great advantage of, choreographing scene transitions that propel the play forward.  The sets are complemented by the luxurious lighting designs of Derek Van Heel.  Each character's costume speaks directly to the actor, deliciously dressed by Dede M. Ayite (Costume Designer).   The ever impressive sound designs of Mark Van Hare put the finishing touches on the technical elements of this sensational production.

"Ashé" is a must see, a theater-goers paradise!

Performances of "Ashé" continue through November 23rd.  For more information, check out our full event listing here:

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Written by: Glenn Quentin
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