The press materials explain Kismet's idea: "While Etta hunts for her missing shoe, Kismet, a silent unborn spirit, searches for the right pair of shoes for her journey into this world." A hunt for shoes starring an octogenarian and an unborn child seems like a weird, promising idea, and the set (two chairs and a whole mess of women's shoes) looks like a good laboratory in which to study the relationship between an elderly woman and her footwear.


As soon as Etta (Demene E. Hall) begins talking, things head south. She continually stops and corrects her own lines, which are delivered to her shoes (except a pair of red stilettos, because she's mad at them—and this is a major plot point). Etta tells her shoes dull anecdotes about the one time she got stage fright or the one time she acted naughty in church or the one time she fell in love with a not-very-well-described man. Just because your character has lived for 80 years doesn't mean she has anything interesting to say, and pulling important ideas onstage and then ignoring them—the Iraq War, Mexican immigration, and global warming each get mentioned exactly once, in distracting ways—doesn't make your play important.

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The inexplicably palsied Kismet (Shontina Vernon, who is also the playwright) doesn't speak; she just tries on different pairs of shoes and finds things—rose petals, flashlights—hidden inside them. If I hadn't read the press materials, I would've had no idea who Kismet was—she might as well have been a loping, idiot shoe fetishist. This is not funny-bad drama, it's boring-bad: I almost joined one man in my row in a deep, blissful nap, but his snoring kept me awake. Kismet has no intermission, but if it had, I would've fled the theater and not looked back. Turns out, I wouldn't have missed a thing.