Theatre review: Pike St.

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: There’s a hurricane coming. And there’s another one that’s already here, at the heart of New Yorker Evelyn’s gregarious Puerto Rican family – living, loving and squabbling in the heart of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Roundabout @ Summerhall (Venue 26)


While Evelyn tries to cure her seriously ill daughter using energy healing, her defiantly un-PC Dad, Papi, is being rinsed for cash by super-sexy Migdalia. ­Meanwhile, Evelyn’s brother ­Manny, a war hero, is coming home, but bringing with him something much darker than his shining medal. The neighbourhood eagerly await his arrival – but, most impressively, they and everyone else in this thrillingly well-written and superbly performed play are brought to live by one person: the extremely talented Nilaja Sun.

It might be a one-woman show, but it has a cast and 
set that could fill a movie – 
all conjured up by Sun’s warm and witty words, delivered by more “big” characters than you’d think it was possible to cram into one play, each fascinating, flawed and funny.

The writing is phenomenally good, filled with the kind of humorous asides and distractions that enrich real-life conversation, but often get edited out in shows.

Sun effortlessly slices through the lively, energetic world of one of New York’s most diverse areas to paint a picture of a world where multiple voices vie for attention, not so much divided by race but the opposing attitudes of different generations.

A celebration of ­“normal” people overcoming, or at least living with, hidden struggles, it’s also a celebration of faith and perseverance – the American dream of never giving up, even when all seems lost. With a ­beautifully structured ­ending, during which the hurricane finally takes hold, we see how the human spirit is stronger than the ­bodies that are swept away. It’s simultaneously powerful, poignant, funny and true, and all in one show.

Until 27 August. Today 3pm.