“I think he’s a good God, who can make bad plans.”
John Kander and Greg Pierce’s new musical Kid Victory covers some very dark and uncharted territory. As you walk into the Vineyard Theater you see a basement with handcuffs. You know something bad has happened here, especially as the show starts and 17-year-old Luke Browst (Brandon Flynn), is chained to the wall. Kid Victory, takes place just as Luke has been found and his small Christian town is singing “Lord Carry Me Home,” in thanks for his return.
There is more to what we have seen. Luke’s devote mother (Karen Ziemba), wants life to return to normal, while his dad (Daniel Jenkins) is not sure what to say. Luke is traumatized and in search of his identity, which was stripped away. Luke is locked into Stockholm Syndrome, where the victim is emotionally bonded to his abuser and has no way of communicating that. Self loathing, guilt, despair and all those emotions ragging inside are taking a toll.
Luke gets a job and bonds with the town’s outcast, Emily (Dee Roscioli) who sings
People Like Us
Got Sponges For Skin
We Let It Seep In
The Sadness and Suff’ring.
As Luke is trying to find his foothold, we see flashbacks of Luke’s yearlong captivity. How he was drugged, taught lessons, was hurt but loved by Michael (Jeffry Denman) a psychopathic history teacher. To Luke this has become his home.
Luke’s mom tries to get the Church quasi therapist (Ana Arvia) to meddle, but she is out of her league.
Luke’s girlfriend Suze (Laura Darrell) doesn’t understand and is willing to wait, but Luke was already having second thoughts about his sexuality when he was taken. You could say that on his first venture out of the closet, things went terribly wrong and at 16 he had to live through the consequences, most of us get an easy pass to. After the ordeal Luke tries to go out using a dating app hooking up with Andrew (Blake Zolfo) to the happy go lucky tune of “What’s The Point?” Luke is gun shy and who can blame him, as his prison is now deeply embedded into his mind.
The cast is first-rate, with Dee Roscioli and Blake Zolfo shinning. Jeffry Denman is disturbingly intense as the man, who in the end unravels. It is hard to feel sorry for someone who takes and interrupts another persons life, but Denman makes us see the shred of humanity left. Brandon Flynn is a star and we totally follow him as he breaks our hearts with his disconnect. Ironically he barely sings, as if his voice has been taken away. I have known children in similar situations and they are like ghosts, who are not quite in the picture. They skim the surface because the depth of what is beyond is terrifyingly frightening and they are never the same. How could they be? Mr. Flynn and director Liesl Tommy understand this.
Kander’s score is hauntingly beautiful. The lyrics and the emotionality of this score capture this journey and it is like dropping down a rabbit hole
There are pieces of Mr. Pierce’s and Mr. Kander’s story that needed more, such as why was Michael like he was. Why the Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde?
In the end Luke’s dad knowing his son’s secret sings
Go Explore The Waves, The Moon, The World.
I Hope I’ll See You Soon, but First I’m Wanting to Ask You, Where You Are.
Despite the distance between father and son, his father accepts who his son is and will be and allows for a healing.
This show is not for everybody, but it is well done, speaks to issues that society would like to bury underneath a rug and does so with respect.
Kid Victory: Vineyard Theatre, 108 E. 15th St. until March 19th.