NKU YES Fest: “Keeper of the Realm” at The Carnegie is a Love Letter to Cincinnati

Review by Swapna Mirashi

‘Keeper of the Realm’ at The Carnegie is a love letter to Cincinnati. The new play, written by Cincinnati playwright D. Lynn Meyers and directed by Brian Robertson, is set in the city’s West Side. It is also a first-of-its-kind regional collaboration and it kicks-off the 20th anniversary of the YES Festival, NKU’s new-play festival, the oldest collegiate new-play festival in the country. Producer Maggie Perrino’s enthusiastic welcome address kicks off the World Premiere of ‘Keeper of the Realm’. Performances of the 80-min one-act (no intermission) run on weekends from April 1-16 – at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 pm on Sundays at The Carnegie.

The story is one of love, loss, distance and coming together of siblings through memories after their parents pass away. The siblings are in their 20s;  lawyer Luke (Braxton Bell) and his younger sisters, the go-getter, career oriented Grace (Mo Cox) and sensitive, perceptive middle-school counselor, Hope (Lexie Woodroof) – promising actors all. They must find their parents’  house deed and collectively decide (‘without a map or a guide’) on what to do with the house and other belongings. The parents – Maureen (Elizabeth Leigh Taylor) and Bill (Randy Lee Bailey) – although dead three days ago, find it hard to let go; of their family, their collection, their family rules and each other. We get to know the family better and understand individual personality, box after box in a manner that doesn’t weigh one down. T (Alexia Daniels) – the neighborhood kid employed by Luke to post notices on poles, give away books and stuff – brings in a fresh perspective as the environmentally conscious, uncompromising voice of reason (the true keeper of the realm?).  

The intelligent scenic design (Sarah Beth Hall) dominated by wooden frames and cardboard boxes highlights the theme of the play – the emptiness and confusion of the situation and transient nature of life. Lighting by Aiden Bezark compliments the scenic design and effectively separates the physical and spiritual zones. Technical Director – Doug Stock. 

An entirely local production from script to stage, ‘Keeper of the Realm’ offers several local references that the audience can relate to and chuckle on. A laudable collaborative effort by The Carnegie and in NKU that encourages young talent (maybe stars of tomorrow) and stages new, original, local playwriting. Catch ‘Keeper of the Realm’ written by Cincinnati playwright D. Lynn Meyers and directed by Brian Robertson at The Carnegie on weekends from April 1-16 – at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 pm on Sundays. Contact box office for tickets, wheelchair access or group of 8 discount 859-957-1940. Masks are required (since the ticket booking started before the mask mandate was revoked).

Swapna Mirashi is a published writer of over 20 years. She has been actively involved in theater (expat – Marathi language and children’s) as an actor and director since 2014.

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