Friday September 22nd 2017

” F***ing A”

I have enjoyed the work of Urban Theater Company since its inception. This is a young troupe of players, whose “mission statement” says that they will bring stories to the stage by under-represented playwrights of color, which will allow audiences to view theater that they might otherwise never experience. It is the “human experience”, from the streets to the stage that has made its mark on theater audiences through the work of Urban. That being said, their latest production, “F***ing A “, now on stage at the Historic Hull House in Uptown, This theater , which was the former home of Black Ensemble located at 4520 N. Beacon Street ( just south of Wilson and East of Clark Street) is now the home of Pegasus Players, so it will be utilized by the local theater community (and for this I am grateful), but as far as play selection goes, this may not have been the best choice.

The play is supposedly based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, but the A in this case is not a woman marked as an aldulteres, but rather an Abortionist. Hester’s son has been imprisoned and in order for him to be realeased, she must become an abortionist to pay off the prison for an early release. The world we are in is a post apocalyptic one. This play, written by Susan-Lori Parks is one that deals with political corruption, seual politics and the enduring love of a mother for her child, no matter what he has done.

Parks calls this play a “revenge tragedy” and while there are few good moments in this musical tragedy, it is not one that I would put on my “to see” list. The story is somewhat confusing in that there is an alternative language used when ever sex is discussed ( and so projections with translations appear on the screen). It appears that only the women understand these words and that sex can be had with anyone at anytime. The breaking out into songs for the most part takes us out of the story and into an almost farce situation, although two of the numbers ( short and sweet) do evoke some feeling as sung by our Abortionist, Hester ( a deeply moving performance by  Kelly Owens) and the Whore,Canary Mary ( Lyndsay Rose Kane, who has a sultry voice and style on stage). Madrid St. Angelo, who plays the butcher ( how quaint that he would fall in love with the Abortionist) is one of the highlights of the show in his acting ability, but his singing voice and the song he sings “Women love the Meat Man” is more comic than the story represents.

I found this production, directed by  Richard Perez, not up to the standards that Urban heater Company has set in past productions and while they work hard, and are just getting used to the old Black Ensemble Theater, this would not be the show I would pick to be the first on this stage that was designed for specialty musicals. They had scenes in different areas that caused the audience to view the play as if at a tennis match and the darkness of the story was matched by the darkness of the production.

This production will play through April 15th at The New Pegasus Theater ( formerly The Black Ensemble Theater) located at  4520 N. Beacon.

Tickets are  $20 for General Admission and for Students and Seniors $10 ( I would suggest that students means seniors in high school and college as this is not a story for kids)

To order your tickts and for times call 312-239-8763 or visit  www.UrbanTheaterChicago.org

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