The reviews are in for ‘Four Destinies’

How does the experience of adoption change based on the culture of the adoptee? Which has more power – Nature, or Nurture? These questions are at the heart of Mu Performing Arts’ latest production, Four Destinies, which runs through October 30 at Mixed Blood Theatre.

Playwright Katie Hae Leo inserts herself as narrator of the play as she wrestles with her hypothetical characters: four “Destinys,” adoptees from four different cultures, raised by the same parents.

Read on for excerpts of reviews by the local media; click on the links to read them in their entirety:

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Sara Ochs, LaDawn James, Katie Bradley, Nora Montanez, Neil Schneider in Four Destinies produced by Mu Performing Arts at the Mixed Blood Theatre

Photo by Michal Daniel

From John Olive at HowWasTheShow.com:

In Act 1, Leo creates the Destinys, four grown-up adoptees, celebrating Gotcha Day with their well-meaning but dorky parents. The first Destiny is Korean, the next is African-American, then Guatemalan; these are all female. The final Destiny is a white American man. Midway through the act, narrator Leo announces that these “characters have gotten away from me.” Frankly, I didn’t believe her. The firm hand of the playwright was all too apparent as the same scene, with variations, is played and replayed, 4 times. Moreover (and as an adoptive parent myself, this bothered me a lot), I found the parents shallow, vehicles for cheap comic effect. During the intermission, I was, I will admit, a restive play-goer.

Ah, but then Act 2 happened, and it’s wonderful. Leo puts her characters through their paces – and narrator Katie Leo as well. They do unpredictable and surprising things. They make significant human connections. They become multi-dimensional. They grow, make meaningful discoveries. In the second act the characters really do get away from their author and result is sublime. When narrator Leo tells us “Truth is a painted toy,” we know precisely what she’s talking about. When the play ended, I was seduced.

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Don Eitel, Maria Kelly, Sara Ochs, Katie Bradley, Shanan Custer in Four Destinies produced by Mu Performing Arts at the Mixed Blood Theatre

Photo by Michal Daniel

From Rohan Preston at the Star Tribune:

The major flaw of the play, which has an unnecessary coda by the playwright character, is structural: The parents are unchanging in the first act, no matter the situation or the adoptee. Same party, same neighbors, same story. That may be true, but it grows a little tiresome.

“Four Destinies” takes off in the second act, when each Destiny, after long years of wondering about his or her personal history, finds out some important information. These scenes show that such knowledge can be tricky, leading to unexpected reflection in the heart and soul.

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Shanan Custer, Neil Schneider in Four Destinies produced by Mu Performing Arts at the Mixed Blood Theatre

Photo by Michal Daniel

From Sophie Kerman at AisleSayTwinCities.com:

As a viewing experience, the script’s rough patches hardly detract from this funny, colorful and tender production. Director Suzy Messerole has found all the awkward humor in adoption, cross-cultural miscommunication, and growing up. With the help of Mina Kinukawa’s pleasingly retro set and some well-placed video projections by Joshua Iley, the four Destinies inhabit a vivid world that is only idealistic on its glossy exterior. In a community with so many adopted children of so many different backgrounds, Leo’s play provides an important look into the particular issues surrounding adoption – both for parents hoping to help, and for children making sense of their mysterious DNA.

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Katie Bradley, Sara Ochs, Don Eitel in Four Destinies produced by Mu Performing Arts at the Mixed Blood Theatre

Photo by Michal Daniel

Have you seen Four Destinies? If so, what did you think? Share your review in the comments section.

  • jinners

    I think this is a really important piece, particularly in Minnesota where there are so very many Korean adoptees. Katie Leo has written a play that will stay in your mind, by touching your heart, and yet it’s never sentimental or over the top. Bravo to a beautiful production with an amazing cast, directed by Suzy Messerole.

  • VangaManga

    A MUST SEE! This piece was AMAZING!!! One of my favorite parts was the beginning when Katie Leo, the character comes out and tells us how she is telling the story of EVERY adoptee; obviously if you didn’t get it, let me break it down for you- she was being SARCASTIC. And as far as Ro Preston’s critique on the parents and neighbors in act 1, I think it needed to be established that for many adoptees, they were told they were “destined” to be adopted…. I think the repetition helped me to understand this.