Review: Knead at the Alliance Theatre
Knead// Alliance Theatre
Nothing goes to waste in ‘Knead’, everything services Mary Lynn’s story and that’s how it should always be.
The autobiographical one woman show, written and starred in by Mary Lynn Owen is one of the best pieces I’ve seen onstage in Atlanta. It is art imitating life. In this case, it’s the life of the show’s creator and actress, Mary Lynn Owen. Who you may have seen in the Alliance’s ‘On the Road’ season, in “Crossing Delancey”
In a solo performance, the hardest thing to do is keep pushing the momentum. In shows with a cast, it’s easier to keep the audience’s attention because there’s always something to look at but in Knead all of that is thrown away. Its you and Mary Lynn, and that’s the best part of the show. The intimacy of the space alone pulls you into the story.
Knead is staged perfectly in the Alliance’s newly renovated, Hertz Stage. This space will hold all of the Alliance’s shows until ‘Ever After’ premieres in January 2019. The Alliance is one theatre that is truly focused on storytelling and the ways it affects people. They carefully examined each show and designed spaces that would elevate the experience, and that’s what this show does.
The set for Knead, looks like the average kitchen set, you might even see it on the Food Network. But as the show begins to unfold, it “opens” into something more than that. The way they transformed the space without changing the set was one of my favorite parts of the show. I believe the biggest factor in its transformation is the audience’s expectations of “more”. We’re so used to sets that are larger than life that when we underestimate the set, it’s allowed the freedom to grow within itself.
This show is the most beautifully written play I’ve seen in a long time.
Nothing goes to waste in ‘Knead’, everything services Mary Lynn’s story and that’s how it should always be. For most solo shows, the “stand out” thing we take with us when we leave is usually the actor’s performance. It’s enthralling to see the volume of their performance. From how many characters they embody to the amount of words they have to memorize. With ‘Knead’, I left impressed by the writing. This show is the most beautifully written play I’ve seen in a long time. The jokes and the moments of distress, all of it is in the script. You feel every bit of her emotion through the writing and to me, that’s the best part of ‘Knead’. It’s easier to find an amazing actor for your “okay” solo show than it is to find an amazing solo show for your already amazing actor.
It doesn’t hurt that the person who has lived the show is also the star.
When I was leaving ‘Knead’ I was going through my thoughts trying to figure out what exactly was different about this show. Why did this show feel deeper than most shows and why had it impacted me so much? Then it hit, these aren’t just her words, there are her memories. She can see these people she’s playing, she can smell her childhood kitchen, taste foods that bring back sweet memories. It’s deeper than words on a page for her, it’s real. And I thank her for writing this show and sharing her story.
Mary is the GOAT (Greatest of all time) for this piece of work and I’m so thankful that I got to experience it. She is one of the best writers and actors in Atlanta so take a trip down to the Alliance and see this life changing show. ‘Knead” runs at the Alliance Theatre’s Hertz Stage from now until December 9th. You can purchase tickets online here!