The title doesn’t give many clues to the plot of this particular play, which can be seen at Summerhall’s fantastic Roundabout venue. It’s more of an address than a title, but that’s deliberate, for Pike St. is a real street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where in the shadow of the Manhattan bridge, Nilaja Sun’s play about family values and neighbourhood comradery, is set.
The central character is Evelyn, there is a hurricane approaching and she can’t get her severely disabled daughter out of the apartment to the safety of a shelter. As she does everything she can to keep the electricity flowing to a dialysis machine and a respirator, a whole host of colourful characters pass in and out of the apartment and beyond. Each one of them brings a new layer to the story, and as the plot builds up it becomes more and more intricate, the story alone is fascinating enough to make the play a success, but then there’s the performer.
Alone on the stage, Nilaja Sun plays every one of Pike St.’s characters. From the disabled daughter to the decorated war hero, Sun crafts a distinct identity for each one of them as they interact with each other. It has to be one of the most complex and daring performances I’ve ever seen. The voices, the physicality’s all add up to be different people but still Sun is alone with only a small stool for company. The performance is so expressive, it is funny and beautifully tender all at once, you will be mesmerised by the skill of this extraordinary performance.
By the end, I had lost it. Tears ran freely down my cheeks as the story reached its climax. Pike St. is far and away one of the best pieces of drama I’ve seen at Edinburgh Fringe. Nilaja Sun is one incredibly talented individual, not only the writer of this multifarious play, but a lone, affecting, voice audiences will not readily forget.