Monday June 26th 2017

“East Texas Hot Links”

hotlinks2Recommended *** I am often asked about rating a performance. It can be a difficult task. What I see is somewhat different from another audience member, and in some cases, I see performances that are better than the script that was written. Over the years, I have learned to appreciate the talent pool that performs at Writers Theatre. They are a strong company, and in speaking with actors in the Chicago Theater Community, a place to work that adds something special to their resume. As you may know, the new facility, an amazing building that stands on the ground of their previous, smaller home has two theaters; The Gillian (the smaller of the two, a black box theater) is where they are presently presenting “East Texas Hot Links” written by Eugene Lee.

The play takes place in the summer of 1955. The place is East Texas, described as a place somewhere between Houston and Dallas, but for sure in Texas. Thinking back to that time, although the civil war had been over for years and the slaves had been freed, there were still many areas of the south where segregation and discrimination still existed. This play takes us into a bar/café deep in the woods where only Negroes can enjoy their libation and talk. This time period was also the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, bringing hope for change to the African-Americans who wanted to be treated as more than what they were.

The men ,and the one lady in the story, Charlesetta (played powerfully by Tyla Abercrumbie) the owner of the café/bar, are enjoying their drinks, talking about their lives and futures, when it is noticed that a young man, Delmus( Luce Metrius))keeps trying to make a call. As the men continue to speak about what is happening in their area- the road construction and the changes in the community, this young man appears nervous, anticipating something special. It turns out, through the discussion, that strange events have been taking place and that some young men have gone missing. The old-timers, Adolph (deftly handled by Willie B.) who is blind, but knows the terrain fears that what is taking place is the White man’s revenge for the changes society is about to make. hot-links

Columbus Frye (Alfred Wilson) is also an elder of the community. He is a man of some means, having some properties where he collects rents. His brother-in-law, young XL Dancer (sharply played by Namir Smallwood), as it turns out, has a solid job and is somewhat involved with the White bosses in some of what is transpiring. The others in the bar are Buckshot (brilliantly brought to life by Antoine Pierre Whitfield), Boochie Reed (the ever reliable A.C. Smith, who has powerful eyes to watch) and Roy Moore (Kevin Roston Jr.). Not wanting to spoil what the story is about and the unusual ending that has been created by Lee along with director ,Ron OJ Parson, I can only tell you that watching this story come to life may remind you that even today, over 60 years later, this powerful story about racism triumphing over empathy, still has meaning. Maybe, even more!

This production is 90 minutes (no intermission) of  love and hate being expressed by those we meet and those who we learn are lurking in the woods. The set (Jack Magaw) truly makes one feel that they have gone back in time to a dinky hotlinks4little bar in the middle of nowhere you would want to be. The costumes (Christine Pascual) are of the times and the lighting (Kathy A. Perkins) and sound (Joshua Horvath) add to the overall picture that both Parson and Lee have created. Matt Hawkins’ fight choreography is amazing and the props handled by Scott Dickens are the finishing touches on a near perfect production. The actors, tech and direction are amazing. I only wish the story was as solid as they were, yet I recommend it and would love to hear back from you.

“East Texas Hot Links” will continue at Writers Theatre located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe thru January 22nd with performances as follows:

hotlinks3Tuesdays  7:30 p.m.

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  3 and 7:30 p.m.

Sundays  2 and 6 p.m.*

EXCEPTIONS Wednesdays matinees  3 p.m.  11/9, 11/23, 12/14,12/28 and 1/11

NO PERFORMANCES 11/24 and Tuesday 1/17

12/24, 12/25, 12/31 and 1/1 (Happy Holidays)

  • no evening on 10/23,11/13, 12/18,12/25,1/1 and 1/15)

Audience enrichment  ASL  December 2nd  7:30 p.m.

Open-captioned  11/4  7:30 p.m.hotlinks6

Tickets range from $35-$80 and can be purchased at the box office, by calling 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org

There is plenty of parking in the area (all free) and you can easily get to the theater by train- Ride Metra, take a picture ,post it to their Facebook or Twitter feed with a tag @writerstheatre and the title of the show- show it to box office and receive $5 in cash toward the cost of your ride.

 

To see what others are saying, visit , go to Review Round-Up and click at “East Texas Hot Links”.

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