Pike St., Nilaja Sun's highly praised sixth play, vividly brings to life a family on New York's Lower East Side. As a storm approaches, Evelyn is trying to assure the safety of her teenage daughter, Candi, whose unidentified illness has immobilized her. Caring for Candi has forced Evelyn to quit her job as a subway conductor; still, she helps support both her philandering father and her brother, who has returned to New York from Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD. Just behind the grace and humor with which Evelyn manages to hold together her own life and those of the people who depend on her is the constant threat of both natural and man-made disasters.
"Such is Ms. Sun’s ability to transmit the strong personalities of her characters that I had to keep stopping myself, as I wrote this review, from checking the program to look up the names of the actors playing Manny and the rest... But no, it’s only Ms. Sun up there, switching voices with such nimbleness that she rarely relies on monologue. The show is made up almost entirely of scenes between two or more characters, and each blooms into life as naturally, and fully, as scenes in a traditional full-cast play." —Charles Isherwood, The New York Times
"As family and neighbors—all given life by Sun's remarkable talents—enter and leave, a growing family crisis builds even as pieces in the story of the family grows. This would be compelling enough with a full cast, but is dazzling with Sun fully embodying each one in the well-wrought drama she has constructed... it is Sun's virtuosity performance that is the draw here and you wouldn't want to deny yourself the opportunity to see her own force of nature in action." —Broadwayworld.com
"To watch Sun channel her characters in her own body, switching from one to another (more swiftly than a dancer, more seamless than a cinematic special effect) is to behold what seems a brand-new human faculty—a sense beyond sight, touch, hearing taste, and smell—the capacity to honor selves other than one’s own by allowing them in... I was stunned and spellbound by Sun’s physicality even before the show’s story unfolded. The story, which wends its way through much humor and drama, leads to a shocking ending that drives home the play’s purpose and social conscience. Which is all well and good. But the real message of Pike St. is in the medium of the messenger: the presence of a profoundly gifted performer who is a shaman for humanity’s wholeness." —John Stoltenberg, DCMetroTheaterArts
"The uniqueness and innovation of this piece of theatre cannot be understated. Sun plays every part in this show with effervescence and ease. She picks them up and puts them back down with a deftness that speaks to the experience, work ethic, and creativity she has come to be known for." —MDTheaterGuide.com
"Sun is such a crafty writer that that detail comes back around significantly before her fast-moving, unpredictable saga concludes. By then, you will have been immersed in the often-comic exchanges zinging back and forth among three generations of a family coping with hardships and soldiering on with admirable determination... Even with its genuinely dark storm clouds, you come out of Pike St. elevated. It’s a sly story in the end and a big-hearted performance." —The Washington Post
"Seeing Nilaja Sun perform solo is like watching a virtuosic musician. The masterful way she plays her instrument—her chameleonlike self—inspires awe as she conjures a vibrant community alone onstage, with startling changes in voice and demeanor signaling a switch to another character. Sun demands that we stop and acknowledge the humanity in folks who are often treated as invisible." —TimeOut New York