Do you have people you can trust? I mean, trust trust. How about a group who you can share your deepest insecurities?
“It’s not a trip it’s a journey” is about four people who share and deepen friendships, though each has a rather major flaw in their sense of safety–physical abuse, work insecurities, social acceptance, etc. Some may not understand why these women are bonded, as they argue–a lot. But clearly there is a sisterhood, not of blood, but of skin and gender. Once they confront each other and some of their fears on a cross-country journey, their friendships deepen, and they can move on to being their best selves. They bloom like a cactus in a desert.
Written by Charly Evon Simpson, directed by Daryl Harris, the show is still finding itself as well. Part of the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere the production is at times sweetly intimate, at times dreadlfully slow, eventually it builds and the theme becomes more clear. Set your expectations–it is not a fast-paced road trip comedy.
The show is bookended by scenes at the Grand Canyon. June (Jasimine Bouldin) has a need to get away, to visit the Grand Canyon and invites friends Frankie (Angelique Archer), Rain (A.J. Baldwin), and Willie (Ariel Mary Ann).
About 45 minutes in and the pilot light finally gets lit, the thin plot thickens, and you see clearly what has been bubbling underneath. The pacing is at fits and starts, seemingly artificial, giving every word importance, but slowing the connection with the audience. It is hard to understand why they are willing to get together for so long–unless they really see each other as life-long sisters. Each has a major emotional trauma and trigger and then there is June, hiding something.
The performers are all solid and interesting, and each has at least one moment to shine. As June, Bouldin carries the most angst. Her monologue at the end is worth the price of admission. Baldwin’s Rain is a kinetic ball of energy dealing with a breakup the others 100% support, but redefining herself is hard. Workaholic Frankie defines herself with her job, and doesn’t “do” emotion, until the trip frees her to admit she has feelings. Ariel Mary Ann’s Willie faces daily genderist attacks so they hold everyone at arms length, and no one in their arms.
As the walls chip away, we hear deep questions such as “Is it in your genes? The need for physical abuse in a relationship?” and laugh with “I don’t have Machu Picchu money.” We learn everything can be made better by a dance break–until someone ruins your fun, and make you start feeling unsafe. Safety and gun violence are themes explored by this sisterhood–not pants.
Technical elements are wonderful, as one would expect from Know’s team of Andrew J. Hungerford (scenery andlighting), Doug Borntrager (Sound and Projections) and Noelle Wedig-Johnson (Costumes). Projections on a simple set guide us on their journey as they see the sights and gain personal insight. They all look great in their clothes.
“It’s not a trip it’s a journey” plays through October 9. It is a great conversation starter with your pals, of any race or gender. Get your tickets HERE.