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The Kentucky Cycle

Critics' Choice

Cycling through the two-part, nearly seven-hour The Kentucky Cycle is no small undertaking — especially for a small, scrappy theater company like Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize–winning drama, composed of nine one-acts, covers 200 years (1775–1975) and demands a committed audience. At the MET, director Karen Paisley (who also appeared in it) staged it in repertory: Part One and Part Two at different times. With the stage and set built just inches from the first row of seats, we were this close to the story's three fictional interwoven Kentucky families. (The crew and cast even took up drills to make a major scene change.) The drama's sometimes hard-to-take mirror of our culture was rendered here as a vividly portrayed tableau — 30 actors, many in multiple roles (including Scott Cordes, Matt Leonard, Manon Halliburton, Chris Roady, Bob Paisley and Jessica Franz), tramping across the stage and history.

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