Review: Horizon’s ‘Klook and Vinette’ struggles to find its soul


Klook (Amari Cheatom) spent most of his youth in the penitentiary, but age and wisdom have set him on the straight and narrow with a job at a local health club and his own apartment. One day, a beautiful young woman, Vinette (Brittany Inge), walks into the health club, and he flirtatiously offers her a cup of carrot juice. Vinette is a single mother on the run from herself and her secrets and looking for a cure to writer’s block.

Totally unimpressed with Klook, she plays hard to get at first, but syllable after syllable, they peel the layers back on each other and eventually move in together in Che Walker’s “The Ballad of Klook and Vinette.”She’s convinced he’ll be the death of her, but in this abstract love story, she may end up being his undoing.

RELATED | What’s coming to Atlanta stages in next few months?

The musical play, onstage at Horizon Theatre through Feb. 18, premiered last year at the Park Theatre in Walker’s native London under the title “Klook’s Last Stand,” with music by British soul singers Anoushka Lucas and Omar Lye-Fook. This is the American premiere of the show, which traveled to the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival in New York, where Lisa Adler, Horizon’s producing co-artistic director, saw a snippet.

Walker journeyed across the pond to direct at Horizon. He has certainly crafted a script full of beautiful poetic language that is both romantic, “we were long-lost twins climbing back into a womb of our own design,” and heartbreaking, “the world has become a kaleidoscope of spiritual upper cuts.” The scenes are a series of vignettes that offer a glimpse into what turns out to be a rocky romance.

Cheatom as Klook struggles to bring his performance outside of himself and draw the audience into him. There are moments when he comes close, especially in the scene where Vinette finds a gun in his dresser and he begs her not to leave, but these moments pop and fizzle so quickly. In the musical moments, Cheatom’s voice does not fill the space, compared to Inge, who has a beautiful singing voice. She was last on the Horizon stage in “Blackberry Daze” as another woman who found trouble in the form of a man. Inge captures Vinette’s sense of humor and sensuality beautifully, but this is not enough to overcome the lack of chemistry between the two performers.

Walker’s directorial choices at times feel out of sync with the script. There are many times when the performers are positioned at stools that are on opposite sides of the stage, which creates literal distance between two people who are supposed to be completely intertwined. There are also moments when the band members react to what is happening onstage and the actors acknowledge them, but these moments lighten the emotional weight of the show. Sometimes a drama just needs to be a drama, and the humor that is already a part of the script is enough.

The bare set, designed by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay, consists of two stools in front of a piano, two jagged half walls for projections, a ceiling fan and an oversized, arched venetian blind at center stage. The projections look like rainbows of ink spilling out onto a page and are enhanced by Mary Parker’s stunning lighting design. Parker is a mainstay at Horizon, and the warm washes of light over the set make it look like a never-ending sunset. Guitarist and bassist Maurice Figgins and pianist/musical director Christian Magby do a wonderful job delivering the show’s jazzy score, which is both sensual and somber.

The core question of “The Ballad of Klook and Vinette” is can love conquer the past? Walker has written the script in such a way that the answer to that question is left up to the audience. Klook and Vinette are two lost souls who try to find themselves in each other, but in Horizon Theatre’s production, this May-December romance is hard to believe. The actors do a nice job of mastering the poetic language, but not so much with mastering each other.

THEATER REVIEW

“The Ballad of Klook and Vinette”

Through Feb. 18. $28-$38. Horizon Theatre, 1083 Austin Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-584-7450, horizontheatre.com.

Bottom line: “The Ballad of Klook and Vinette” is a musical love story that loses its pitch.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

Atlanta foundation will take 725 students to see “Black Panther”
Atlanta foundation will take 725 students to see “Black Panther”

Jay Bailey recognizes the importance of images and exposure. He was eight years old  when he saw the first superhero who looked like him. “I grew up with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman,” Bailey said. “I never saw my reflection in them. They were superheroes I admired and looked up to.” On Tuesday, the Phoenix Leadership...
9 quick hikes near Atlanta's breathtaking waterfalls
9 quick hikes near Atlanta's breathtaking waterfalls

The hustle and bustle of Atlanta isn't always what it seems. Hidden in various nooks and crannies or a few miles beyond its perimeter are waterfalls. Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Arabia Mountain Cascade Trail .2 – 3.25 miles 3350 Klondike Road, Lithonia. 404-998-8384 Look no further! Just .2 miles into this hike you'll find cascades...
5 trails for the whole family around Atlanta
5 trails for the whole family around Atlanta

No matter the season hiking in Georgia is always rewarding. Different seasons have different charms, even winter, but Georgia’s natural beauty is always there for you. Here are five trails of varying terrain that everyone in the family is sure to enjoy. Get outside, Atlanta. Anna Ruby Falls in Helen. An easy hike with a lovely reward at the end...
Long before today’s advances, there was Greenwood’s researcher’s guide
Long before today’s advances, there was Greenwood’s researcher’s guide

Val D. Greenwood published the first edition of “The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy” in 1973, way before the internet, digitized records, DNA testing kits and other new advances forever changed the way people explore their family trees. Late last year, he produced the fourth edition, 240 pages longer than the first. The...
Take this aerial adventure near one of Georgia's most beautiful waterfalls
Take this aerial adventure near one of Georgia's most beautiful waterfalls

Ready to take leaf peeping to all new heights in North Georgia? Now, you can get a squirrel's-eye-view of the mountain foliage from the new Aerial Adventure Park near the tumbling waterfall at Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge. The Amicalola Falls Aerial Adventure Park opened in  2016, so if you still haven’t checked...
More Stories