Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Lemon squeezes sweet style into 'County of Kings'

Lemon squeezes sweet style into 'County of Kings'

In the opening scene of Lemon Andersen's enthralling solo memoir, "County of Kings," the hip-hop poet re-enacts the elation he felt upon reaching the pinnacle of his young career.
In this triumphant moment, Andersen basked onstage at the Tony Awards ceremony in his hometown, New York City, reveling in his own, long-awaited arrival.
Privately, his thoughts traced back to the troubled path that led him to the big time, a journey he calls "the beautiful struggle." This struggle, with all its dark splendor, provides ample inspiration and color for Andersen's play, which opened Monday at off-Broadway's Public Theater.
The show is a fast-moving, lyrical ode to the unforgiving stomping grounds where he came of age _ Kings County, New York, better known as Brooklyn.
In a masterful blend of verse, rap and dialogue, Andersen paints a highly original portrait of his beloved urban wonderland, capturing both its bleakness and brilliance.
The narrative begins sweetly from his point of view as a child trying to make sense of stark realities that dogged his family for as long as he could remember _ drug addiction, AIDS, poverty and crime.
Andersen successfully offsets the grimness of his urban environment with the marvels of his resilient spirit. During the show, which is performed in less than two hours with one intermission, this resilience exhibits itself in different ways at various stages of Lemon's life. Initially, it takes the form of youthful innocence, then adolescent defiance and, later, steadfast acceptance.
Along the way, he reveals hidden joy in the most desolate of circumstances.
The performer is an alumnus of the critically acclaimed "Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on Broadway," which won a 2003 Tony for special theatrical event.
Under the direction of Elise Thoron, "County of Kings" transforms Lemon's poetry and remarkable story into a compelling drama, with Andersen portraying many of the characters who shaped his development.
His ability to bring these characters to life isn't quite on par with, say, Sarah Jones of "Bridge & Tunnel" fame. But he does display an engaging depth in his acting and, more notably, an irresistible abundance of style.
This style isn't limited to his complex rhymes and fluid speech. It also pervades his movements.
In one of the show's most entertaining scenes, the boy is with his mother at a Coney Island amusement park. When the DJ plays the classic disco song "Ring My Bell," his mother lets go of his hand and "gives her 10-year-old man-child the solo of his life," in which Lemon charms the audience with old-school dance moves.
"County of Kings," featured last year as part of the Public's Under The Radar Festival, has returned for a six-week engagement.


Updated : 2021-10-22 11:20 GMT+08:00