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The Daily Tar Heel

One-man show 'Hold These Truths' feels like an ensemble production

PRC2's "Hold These Truths"

Thursday, 7:30 p.m.


Jeanne Sakata’s one man show “Hold These Truths” presents an immensely powerful look into the American struggle for racial equality and justice, and is closing out PRC2’s 2013-14 season with standing ovations.

“Hold These Truths” is a dramatic reimagining of the life and times of Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese American who resisted Japanese interment during WWII.

Staged in Kenan Theatre, the play was performed entirely by Joel de la Fuente, whose captivatingly versatile acting and seemingly limitless energy brought the story to life and the audience to full attention.

As the play opened, Fuente swiftly silenced the theater by rising from the audience to recount Hirabayashi’s story and deliver a powerful soliloquy about his decades of struggle. Fuente’s passion and dynamism were transfixing to witness, and held the audience’s focus from the play’s opening to its finale.

Throughout the show, Fuente adopted a diverse assortment of personas, ranging from Hirabayashi’s parents and friends, to racist southern lawmen and northern bureaucrats. His seamless transitions between radically divergent characters and ideologies was not only an engaging feat, but it also made the performance feel like it had a cast of thousands.

Fuente’s skilful appropriation of such wildly different viewpoints and understandings adeptly canvassed the time period: yielding memorable moments of tension which oscillated between heartwarming and chilling.

The layout of the set was fairly static, and used an array of lighting and sound techniques to establish different atmospheres throughout the play. This stylistic choice wonderfully counterbalanced the complexity of Fuente’s performance and transformed the relatively small stage into a vast canvas upon which he could create.

From jail cells and courtrooms to the desert sun and Empire State Building, the play’s smooth transition from anecdote to anecdote gave the performance a feeling of motion and relevance without ever impeding on its action.

Fuente’s amazingly versatile performance, along with the play’s resourceful and technically adept staging, netted the show a minute long standing ovation and the shouted accolades of dozens of audience members. The production was not only an incredibly entertaining affair, but managed to rein in the play’s powerful themes in a staggeringly visceral performance.

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