REVIEW: A Knee That Can Bend With Orbiter 3
There are few works currently playing in Philadelphia that are as thought-provoking and engaging as the premiere of Emma Goidel’s A Knee That Can Bend, which opened last week at Theatre Exile’s Studio X. The newest production by Orbiter 3, Philly’s sustainable playwriting cohort, is deeply moving, emotionally gripping, and beautifully performed. In short, I’d argue it’s one of the best productions currently playing in the region.
One of the main reasons the play, about an American lesbian sociology student studying queer women in Dakar, is so effective is the utterly intelligent writing of Goidel. The script and characters are sharp and authentic, raising a host of questions about queerness, identity, and national pride.
Then there’s the absolutely stellar ensemble cast, led by Anna Zaida Szapiro as Kate and the amazing Jennifer Kidwell as her lover, Aicha. It’s through their on-stage chemistry that the audience is able to see the seemingly naïve Kate transform, and some might argue, become emotionally ruined by the end of the play. Danielle Lenee morphs throughout the production into countless characters with a seemingly effortless style. However, audiences will be truly gripped by the spectacular Candace Moore, who plays Nene, Aicha’s sister who also has queer tendencies. Ms. Moore’s performance is truly heartbreaking as a woman who wishes to remain “invisible” given her own ingrained beliefs of sexuality.
The company should be recognized, not only for the continual level of artistic quality that they present, but the ability to tackle such a thematic work with ethos and sensitivity. There is an overwhelming drive by many theater companies to produce works that tackle “tough issues.” However, in many cases, the end result is not only problematic, but oftentimes inauthentic to the voices the company is trying to explore. That’s not the case with A Knee That Can Bend. For that alone, the work by Orbiter 3 is a must-see.
“A Knee That Can Bend” runs through December 20th at Studio X. For tickets and more information, click here.
Read more of our reviews of shows playing now in Philly:
- Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at PTC
- The Book of Mormon at Forrest Theatre
- Becoming Dr. Ruth at Walnut Street Theatre
- A Christmas Story at Walnut Street Theatre
- Equivocation at Arden Theatre Company
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