Linda Means to Wait
nytheatre.com review by Montserrat Mendez
August 11, 2012
Linda Means to Wait has a misleading title. Knowing very little about the show, I jumped to the conclusion that I knew exactly what Linda was meaning to wait for. Boy was I wrong. Linda means to wait for so much more in this appealing and honest FringeNYC offering.
There is great power in simplicity, and Linda Means to Wait effectively sticks to this rule. The central character is at a school to teach the young students conflict resolution; but soon finds herself sharing her life story.
It turns out that Linda’s name means “Waiting” in Zulu, and that is where her roots lie. As she begins to tell her tale, she becomes a myriad of wonderfully colorful characters. As we go from Africa, to Connecticut, to Chicago she introduces us to her entire family; a tribe of wonderful, human and, most of all, conflicted characters.
And here is where this simple play shines: it introduces the idea of conflict resolution, it makes you aware of the conflict that all immigrants face when they attempt to assimilate into the new culture. It is an interior conflict that you never really quite resolve. And I know. I came to the United States when I was fourteen.
This play will work on an entertaining level to any audience; but if an audience member is an American by assimilation then, the specificity of her journey, makes her story quite universal.
There are moments of discovery as well; her father’s views about music could be an entire show of their own, as we learn about the big differences between the importance of rhythm to African music, and how Europeans and Americans place rhythm third in the way music is written. It was an educational yet revelatory moment, and it also repeats itself throughout the performance - "The rhythms of life", her father’s speech - joy and suffering - rhythm is central to life and all you have to do is be yourself to feel it. What a wonderful lesson to take away from a play.
There are great lessons to be found in the play; there are also simple moments of recognition that it is our cultural differences that make us all the same in one way, and yet, each of us are wonderfully unique.
The story is true and so is watching Linda Kurioff’s performance, it is grounded work and because she is so charming, you like her from the get go, so it’s like watching a friend tell you a very special secret. Director Geoffrey Owens does a fantastic job at keeping the play’s rhythms grounded in reality.
Linda Means to Wait; but frankly I don’t think you should. There are only four performances left!