“Blood” is one word that comes up. Blood as poison, blood as might. Other words—“help” and “cry”—are among the verbs most likely to be spoken by the eighty-six-year-old playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s characters. These bitter, lovesick words—sharp bleats of distress—rise and cling to the curtains and the walls in the ghastly showrooms of her characters’ troubled, hope-filled, and hopeless minds. Taken together, Kennedy’s twenty-odd plays form a long and startling fugue, composed of language that is impactful and impacted but ever-moving, ever-shifting, as her protagonists, usually women of color, stand on the precipice of disaster, madness, or loss. For the course of the performance, at least, those women overcome their passivity and their willfulness—a jarring combination—in order to tell us what life can feel like on that cliff of color and gender.

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