Leave it to American Blues Theater to bring us a special offering that deals with topics of the day. Anyone who reads the newspaper ( those are those paper products that relate the stories that we catch on TV, but with greater details) knows of the situations involving the Black/White situations as well as the new topic dealing with gender/benders (or trans-genders). The two one act plays now on the stage at The Greenhouse Theater 2 (this is the first floor studio that seats about 52 patrons),”Dutchman” and “Transit” take us into the depths of these types of characters and stories as we ride along the New York Transit System during a period that spans 50 years ( or so we are told).
Each of the plays is approx. 1 hour in length (the entire production time is two hours with a 10 minute intermission). The first is “Dutchman” is written by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and is directed by Chuck Smith. It takes place on a subway train car in New York. At the very onset, Clay (Michael Pogue) is biding his time, reading as he moves across the city via the subway. At one stop, he sees a lovely and very sexy lady peering thru the window, staring at him. All of a sudden, she has boarded the train car and made her way towards him. Her name is Lula (the very sexy Amanda Drinkall) and she begins to work him as a prostitute might a “john”. During this play, we see her work her way with him and watch a man fall into the trap she has set, falling for her and her lies as if his very life depended upon it.
This is a very timely play in that many of us continue to struggle with the “Black/White ” situations we read and hear about daily. Here is a middle class Black man, minding his own business, going somewhere ( we never know exactly where) who meets this lovely and very sexy woman who makes him feel that he is not just a man, but indeed a special man. One that will have a very, very special reward for playing along with her desires and wants. I cannot tell you what happens between these two, as it would ruin what the author and Smith have created, but can tell you it is a tense relationship story that will draw your close attention and keep you mesmerized for the almost 60 minutes of romance, sexiness and intrigue.
The second play, “Transit” is written by Darren Canady and is directed by Lisa Portes. Again, we are on a subway car, only some fifty years later. Our main characters that have boarded this train car are Veronica ( a dynamic performance by Manny Buckley) and friend Luke (deftly handled by Jake Szezepaniak). While on the train, a street performer, Lalo ( an incredible performance by Edgar Miguel Sanchez, comes on board and begins to do “his thing”. He is confronted by Veronica, who tells him that he is “missing the boat” and coud earn a great deal more by changing his attitude and form. From this point on there is a strong confrontational wall between these two characters. Again, not wanting to spoil the impact that the playwright and director have created is key to making this experience one to remember, so in the interest of good theater, I will say no more.
Except to tell you that there are some exceptional performances by the leads in both shows and that the ensemble of players, who do very little except to solidify the story-telling, are very sharp people. There are no small parts, only small actors ( a quote from “The Fantastiks”), so a tip-of-the hat to Grant Carriker, Sawyer Krouse, Warren Lavon, Kirstin McGinnes and Nicola Rinow. Thanks to your skills, these show truly work!
Special note on movement (Ricardo Garcia), Fight Choreography (Vincent Teninty) Set Design(Sarah E. Ross), Lighting Design (Sarah Hughey), Sound (Thomas Dixon) Props (Alex Long) and Costumes (Christopher Neville). The tech aspects worked to perfection allowing us to be swept into the stories and see where they can connect. Both stories deal with similar topics. Sexual differences or likes, Black vs. White ( or even brown). Is it possible that what happens in each unique situation could be based on truth? Not wanting to spoil your evening, I can tell you that both stories are well written and very -. The actors are powerful int heir character development and the stories they are telling are happening right in our neighborhoods as well.
The two plays- “Dutchman/Transit” will continue at Greenhouse Theater Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue thru September 25th with performances as follows:
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $19-$49 (open seating) and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 773-404-7336 or online at www.americanbluestheater.com
Street parking (limited) is available.
To see what others are saying, visit http://www,theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Dutchman”/Transit”
The theater holds 52 patrons- very intimate. Hey, phone users, can you turn the phone off and look at it during intermission, after the show, or better yet, AFTER the curtain calls. Be the best neighbor you can be. Respect the performers and the other audience members!