Magic Window Productions puts up the carefully curated one-woman show, Random Acts. Using light hearted wonder and childlike curiosity, writer and performer Renata Hinrichs brings to life the details and repercussions of events during the Civil Rights Movement as experienced by her child and teenage self. Director Jessi D. Hill ensures the power of the piece by keeping the production simple and open to the audience.
The structure of the piece aids the impact of the story. Ms. Hinrichs bookends the piece with a 1970s high school experience, while the bulk of the piece is dedicated to the 1960s Chicago of her childhood. The audience is brought into the honest and raw world of childhood where observation, curiosity and imagination reign supreme. Ms. Hinrichs representation of her child self observes the mundane aspects of life, and her curiosity (and sometimes confusion) about adult reactions to apparently normal things – like a child getting baptized, or talking to a schoolmate – drive her into her imagination where she nurses the wounds of the world in her baby dolls and elevates her spirits through song, dance, and magic.
Renata Hinrichs dances onto the stage and subtly changes her voice and physical movement to represent many versions of herself and every character that is essential – her mother, her father, her guardian angel, to name a few. As an actress and dancer Ms. Hinrichs’ physicality is subtle, precise and delicate. She captures childhood abandon in her adult body without fear in sharp contrast to the stiff and proper elements she brings to her adult impressions. She is absolutely delightful to watch, and I love her singing voice.
Chika Shimizu’s scenic design is a colorful backdrop that bends to the will of Daisy Long’s light design. The single set piece seems to recall a record display, which seems apropos because music is such an important element of the story. The music in the show easily opens a window to the world in the 60s – the popular music of MoTown; Julie Andrews’ show tunes; and religious hymns meant for everyone.
Ultimately, this story is about how displaying kindness and respect for all people can change how we see the world and how we move through it. It is an encouraging memoir that demonstrates how a single memory of kindness can so deeply affect our world.
Random Acts, Magic Window Productions, TBG Mainstage Theater, 312 W 36th St. Closes March 2. www.randomactstheplay.com