Christina Acosta Robinson & Ken Robinson in Still Ready. Photo: Ryan Armbrust
Created and performed by Christina Acosta Robinson and Ken Robinson
Music Direction by Victoria Theadore
Directed by Robert Barry Fleming
Commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville
A review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2022 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Almost exactly one year ago, Actors theatre premiered a shorter version of Still Ready as part of a fledgling, online Humana Festival. I wrote of thet iteration, “… it is a wholly individual work that could not be produced again except by its creators; an intimate yet performative dual autobiographical work that is as much cabaret as scripted theatre, but all love story.”
This new edition remains a love story, even more effectively illustrated by being a live performance, but now there is a clearer autobiographical narrative and a vibe that seeks audience engagement for its full impact.
In the beginning passages in which the couple relate how they met at Yale Drama School and the first days of their awkward courtship, it took awhile for the small audience to warm up, and the show felt a little stuck for a moment. Once they began to sing, things picked up and the audience became more vocal and enthusiastic.
It would seem unlikely to not be won over by Ken Robinson’s smooth and passionate baritone. He wrote all of these love ballads, and as he notes at one point, when you write your own material, you are the perfect casting choice. Christina Acosta Robinson also sings beautifully, but her spoken word poetry is her most important contribution, expressing her bi-racial, Afro-Latina identity and establishing a deeper autobiographical context.
Stll Ready might seem an egocentric exercise, but the Robinson’s are long on talent and charisma, and their story is full of hope and love. When Ken Robinson speaks about being raised by a single mother after his father abandoned them, he touches upon a truth that has become a stereotype but remains a marker for contemporary Black families. So, crucially, Still Ready is also the experience of accomplished Black Americans who honor their past while building a new family, one that is whole and flourishing. The Robinsons have two children, and when Christina unabashedly offers their pictures from her cell phone, the moment may be scripted, yet is also seems genuine and heartfelt, and one group Black women seated closer to the stage eagerly engaged with her to share in the pride of family.
The couple is accompanied by Music Director Victoria Theodore, whose expert keyboard skills are complemented by her own charming interactions throughout the evening.
Still Ready may be a cabaret or nightclub act rather than a play, but it is warm and entertaining and goes down easy while still having something important to say.
May 25- June 4, 2022
Actors Theatre of Louisville
316 West Main Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.