Patrick Chavis – LA Theatre Bites.
Boston Court and Playwrights’ Arena Present: Unrivaled @ Boston Court Pasadena – 7.5 out of 10 – Above Average!
Katie Buenneke – Theater Digest
Sei Shōnagon (Chelsea Yakura-Kurtz) wrote The Pillow Book, an assemblage of musings that entertained not just her fellow ladies-in-waiting in the court of Empress Teishi (Cindy Nguyen), but also the society at large, while her contemporary Murasaki Shikibu (Katie Kitani) wrote the epic, populist The Tale of Genji. Playwright Rosie Narasaki imagines what their relationships might have been, and does so in a contemporary, vibrant voice. Nguyen especially shines as the ebullient Empress, and Yakura-Kurtz and Kitani draw sharp contrasts while deploying sharper tongues. I love stories about female friendships, fraught or not, and this delivered that for me. Read more…
Dana Martin – Stage Raw
The play adopts a generally light, often comedic tone despite the severity of some of its events — thus dissipating the emotional impact of the story’s outcome. Impending political upheaval is treated lightly and frivolously while chatty, girlish gossip takes focus. The bright, accomplished women have little agency over their own lives and yet their focus is on whether or not they belong. Murasaki’s romantic relationship with Michinaga distracts from the potency of the main storyline and often dovetails into melodrama.
Unrivaled is a lovely story about female friendships and perceived competition within them. Narasaki blends a contemporary outlook with ancient personas, synthesizing historical fact, ancient legend and a healthy dose of imagination to portray a compelling rivalry between two 11th century Japanese female poets who likely never even knew each other at all.
Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move
Imagine my surprise…when two razor sharp female wits and one hilarious empress of 11th century Japan, trotted out saucy, a la CLUELESS banter, skillfully articulated and elegantly styled. It was clear, UNRIVALED is masterfully done. More…