Five of Us
5 out of 5
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"Haunting, poetic and achingly tender, the pitch perfect HOW IS IT THAT WE LIVE OR SHAKEY JAKE + ALICE conveys love in a way that will leave you thinking about what it means for two hearts to be entwined for the brief flash of the human life span.
It's as if someone forgot to tell playwright Len Jenkin that new plays are not supposed to be this good...
The story and structure are deceptively simple.
We meet Shakey Jake and Alice as teens, huddling for shelter, laughing, questioning, proclaiming their love and confusion under the bridge.
Years pass between scenes that take us to young adults whose lives didn't turn out as they'd hoped, and finally to elderly people facing challenges beyond their control.
...Two supporting characters serve as charismatic narrators, characters and catalysts in multiple roles, not unlike El Gallo in The Fantasticks or the Leading Player in Pippin...
The biggest wow goes to Jenkin, the Obie Award-winning playwright who has reached for the stars in HOW IS IT THAT WE LIVE and, somehow, managed to bring one down to twinkle... HOW IS IT THAT WE LIVE is, in the end, a play about the human condition that doesn't condescend, simplify or slip into sentimentality.
Amid life's inevitable disappointments and fears, it beats with hope that love is real and prevails.
Shakey Jake and Alice aren't famous or rich.
They don't change the world by the standards we usually apply to people who are deemed to be making a difference.
But their love for each other turns out to be more important than being remembered for a brief sojourn on the earth.
In fact, this play suggests, that may be the only important thing.
Shakey Jake tells Alice that when they come back in another life, even if she's a tree, he will find her and love her.
The marvel and joy is that you believe it."
Nancy Churnin, Dallas News
Five of Us
Five Of Us
Plays By Len Jenkin
My Uncle Sam