Brenda Meaney (left) and Xochitl Romero in "Queens." Photo by Jim Carmody
Queens is the story of some remarkable women, though not of royal blood. The women are immigrants to the U.S. from countries as disparate as Poland, Afghanistan and Honduras who have in common the deep-seated dream of a better life in America, land of supposed opportunity. The Queens in Martyna Majok’s play is that easternmost borough in New York City. It is there, in the basement of a rundown tenement, that two intersected stories of immigrant women surviving on strength, spirit and bonding are told.
Under the direction of Carey Perloff, La Jolla Playhouse is staging the West Coast premiere of this new work from Majok, recipient of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Tense and emotive, Queens is riveting throughout its 70-minute first act, which flits in time between 2001 and 2017. The second act, however, turns cynical and histrionical, diluting to some extent the overall staying power of the play. This does not in any way diminish the performances of the six cast members, half of whom assume dual roles. Noteworthy is Jolly Abraham who as Aamani speaks with both the yearning and the apprehension of immigrants everywhere. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 7/11/18.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.