Review: “Heart” with Jade Anouka

If you saw Phyllida Lloyd’s series of Shakespeare productions set in a women’s prison you likely remember what an arresting impression Jade Anouka made as Mark Antony and Hotspur. She has returned to New York in a solo piece called Heart as part of Audible’s series at the Minetta Lane Theater.

The lights come up and she’s still arresting, in utter command of an expressive body and voice. Alas, what she’s not in command of is her text. The piece is autobiographic and it goes from her description of a disastrous early marriage through a journey of self-discovery to a hard-won, stable relationship with a woman. Along the way, she worries that if her private life becomes public it will limit her casting opportunities.

The problem is that she evaluates everything for us. Instead of being content to present scenes from her life, she insists on analyzing the meaning of the scenes in detail, sprinkled with an abundance of adjectives. She leaves nothing for us to figure out, rendering the audience passive. And there is whiff of self-congratulation (building to a couple of cues for the audience to applaud news about her life) that is off-putting. I wish director Ola Ince had urged her to be more trusting of the audience’s ability to come to their own conclusions and to embrace her without overtly asking.

About dgsweet

I write for and about theater. I spent a number of years as a resident playwright of a theater in Chicago which put up 14 of my plays, and I still think of Chicago as my primary theatrical home, though I actually live in New York. I serve on the Council of the Dramatists Guild. Between plays, I write books, most notably SOMETHING WONDERFUL RIGHT AWAY (about Second City), THE O'NEILL (about the O'Neill Center) and THE DRAMATIST'S TOOLKIT (a text on playwriting craft). I also occasionally perform a solo show called YOU ONLY SHOOT THE ONES YOU LOVE. I enjoy visiting theaters outside of New York. I can be reached at
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