By Michael Block
Brian Quijada has upped the solo storytelling game in his best-infused narrative recounting a tale of identity. Presented by Ensemble Studio Theatre, Where Did We Sit On the Bus? by Brian Quijada explores his journey as he tries to piece together who he is.
In this near ninety-minute play, we hear Quijada's beautiful use of language accompanied by live beats and music as he proves how much of an effortless entertainer he is. Where Did We Sit On the Bus? takes the audience on an intimate journey through Quijada’s struggles as a child of color, framing his piece through questions of race and culture in modern history. It's a revealing story that taps into Quijada's core. Yet he seemed to lack an emotional connection. That's not to say he didn't feel, there was a sense of neutrality that emanated to the audience. Quijada is a very "matter-of-fact" narrator. His focus is on the musicality of his words. Sometimes it gets in the way of a genuine demeanor, opting for something crisp, clean, and calculated. No matter what, Quijada was engaging, shining brightest through his musicianship. He posses a skill that many have; actually being a multi-faceted performer. Unfortunately, his skillset didn’t translate into the writing. Quijada’s text lacks bearing. There is a bit of a bookend, but the journey in the middle is wonky.
You have to wonder had the production not been what it was, would Where Did We Sit On the Bus? have the same effectiveness as the Ensemble Studio Theatre’s production had? Likely not. But credit must be give to Chay Yew and his design team for elevating Brian Quijada’s play.