Strike-Slip, by Naomi Iizuka - To be completely blunt, my ticket to Strike-Slip came at the end of a long week and a long day. Having heard generally negative things about the show, I seriously contemplated following an impulse to get in my car and head home to Lexington after The Unseen Friday afternoon. But there's a voice in my critical brain that says, "See things for yourself." That, and having liked Iizuka's previous Humana shows - 2004's At the Vanishing Point is my favorite play in nine years of covering the festival - kept me in Louisville, and I'm glad I stayed. Strike-Slip isn't a great play, and certainly not Iizuka's best. You can see the comparisons to Crash, as it is the story of a culturally diverse group of people in Los Angeles who intersect due to some unfortunate circumstances. But Iizuka makes those connections in some unexpected and meaningful ways, and deftly weaves threads through the show such as the seismic theme of the title and the story of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie. Like we said, it's not perfect. The diversity occasionally leads to some of the stereotyping, the conclusion seems a bit fanciful and some people may be put off by it. It also felt a bit TV-drama-ish at points. (Maybe TV could be another outlet for Iizuka's craft.) But a fairly simple set design and attractive story that seemed to please people around me may make it a good bet for theaters that are willing to spring for the eight-person cast. For a night at the theater, Strike-Slip was well worth it, even worth getting to bed a bit later than you hope.
The Humana Festival of New American Plays continues through April 1 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Click here for show and ticket information.