Edinburgh Fringe: Nilaja Sun (Pike St.) interview

Award-winning Nilaja Sun (No Child…) breathes life into a vibrant mix of Lower East Side residents in her latest solo show. At the heart of Pike St. is Evelyn.

She’s balancing welcoming her Navy SEAL brother home, keeping her eccentric father out of trouble and providing electricity for her daughter on life-support. All this before a hurricane hits NYC.

Pike St. is one of 2017’s unmissable shows and AAA caught up with Nilija for a chat in between shows.

How has your Fringe been so far?

This year has a certain electric energy, as most years do I assume. Because there has been so much rain in the first week, it seems like the city bands together in empathy and then when the sun comes out, it’s like we haven’t seen the sun in years and there is great rejoicing. That dynamic is brought into the audience. I can feel a great desire from folks to want to feel light, be illuminated or “see the light”, and when they do while watching Pike St., their gratitude is so palpable from the stage.

Tell us a bit about the show you’re in?

Pike St. is a one woman show about a family bracing for a big hurricane. It’s set in the Lower East Side of New York, where I was raised, and highlights the different kinds of people who live and love there.

What’s the audience reaction been so far?

This is my second year at the Fringe and I’ve always thought that Edinburgh audiences are the best. This year is no different and now that I am performing in the round, I physically feel the love all around me. It’s a special sensation everyone should experience at least once in one’s life.

Do you read your reviews? Do negative ones bother you?

I don’t reviews but my parents in the States read every one of my reviews, copy and save them. I have a review chest at home, if ever I want to take a peek.

There’s thousands of shows on – why should Fringe-goers fork out to see yours?

Pike St. shines a light on a family in a day in their lives when they are hunkered down for a big storm. Most of us have had moments when Mother Nature made us pause for a moment and reflect on our lives, past, present and future. This is a story of familial self-reflection, with lots of laughs, of course.

Are there any other shows on this year you’d recommend?

The Paines Plough’s line-up at the Roundabout (at Summerhall) is especially dazzling this year. I think one day I’ll perform my show Pike St. then just sit in the Roundabout for hours and experience all of the diverse new work.

What’s on your hit list to see?

I look forward to seeing Adam at the Traverse.

What do you like to do in Edinburgh on your day off?

I get a delicious Thai massage and then eat Thai food and walk through the Meadows. It’s usually an easy breezy day for me.

Do you agree with those who say the Fringe has become too big?

I’m from New York – land of too much, too big, too bright – so I love all of the energy and diversity that comes with the Fringe. I can imagine however that the local Edinburghians must be annoyed to high heaven and are ready for us to bounce out of here come the end of the month. I get it.

Can you recommend a bar or restaurant in Edinburgh? 

True Thai on Causewayside. Nut, the owner, also gives the best massage at her spa next door. She’s my hero!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in Edinburgh this year? 

Honestly, it’s strange that it could be pouring rain and folks can have a decent civilised conversation with no umbrellas, ponchos or raincoats. They just stand there getting wet in the cold while maintaining their through-line. Strange yet inspiring.

Sell your show in no more than ten words.

Dynamic one-woman show by brilliant, physically comedic NY actress.

Pike St, Roundabout @ Summerhall until August 27 (not 15,22) at 3pm. Tickets available at www.edfringe.com

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