Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-06-05
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Crumbs From the Table of Joy
by Karen Topham

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Playwright Lynn Nottage

At Raven Theatre, 6157 N Clark St. Tickets: 773-338-2177 or; $15-46. Runs through Nov. 18

Like Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage's 1995 family drama Crumbs From the Table of Joy is a memory play reflected through the mind of the oldest child of a very flawed, controlling single parent. In this case, the flawed parent is Godfrey Crump ( Terence Sims ), a man who has ( as the play begins ) recently lost the love of his life and uprooted his daughters Ernestine ( Chanell Bell ) and Ermina ( Brandi Jiminez Lee ) from the south to Brooklyn.

The play's narrator is 17-year-old Ernestine. She's a high school senior who, unlike her social butterfly 15-year-old sister, pretty much keeps to herself. He greatest escape is to go to movies, where she is awed by the great dramatic tales featuring actresses like Joan Crawford that manage to resolve themselves in two hours. Her own life offers no such neat resolutions. She lives in her imagination, even joyfully playing out alternative scenes from her life as she wishes they had occurred.

The Crump family's regimented life is uprooted twice: first by the arrival of Godfrey's sister-on-law, Lily Anne Greene ( Brianna Buckley ). Lily, arriving on the scene in ostentatiously bright and sharp clothing that the Crump girls cannot even dream of, is a hard-drinking, hard-socializing member of the Communist Party ( because it is in favor of eliminating Jim Crow laws ). The second disruption comes in the form of Godfrey's sudden marriage to a white German immigrant ( Emily Tate ), who at first seems a bit of a naif but reveals more depths as the play goes on.

Director Tyrone Phillips gets some outstanding performances from his entire cast. Sims plays Godfrey's desperation discover why he was left alone as the driving force of his life. It informs his newfound religion, his confusion over his feelings for Lily ( with whom he shares a past ), and even his honest and abiding love for his daughters. Lee is outstanding as the fiery, indomitable Ermina; she's a constant breath of fresh air in any scene she's a part of. Tate's throughout the play is fun to watch as she takes this white German woman ( only a half-decade after WWII no less ) and works to integrate her into the Crumps' lives only to meet massive resistance from both daughters.

Bell carries the weight of the play on her shoulders and is wonderful in the role of the wallflower daughter whose imagination is the greatest thing about her life. Her internalized and understated performance allows us to see all of the more flamboyant performances through her eyes, though it is by no means emotionless. Indeed, Ernestine goes through just about every emotion possible during this play and Bell is a master of subtle expressions.

Among those flamboyant performances is Buckley's Lily. Buckley is a force of nature in this play: entering like a whirlwind in red, she immediately claims the stage, and whether boisterously drunk, audaciously sexy, or honestly tender, her Lily shines not only as the object of her nieces' affection but as one of the best performances of the year.

Crumbs From the Table of Joy asks us to find the delightful crumbs whenever and wherever we can because we don't always have full access to the table, but it suggests that the crumbs just may be enough. It's a quiet, simple play by Nottage, as understated as its main character, but it offers us a different glimpse into the playwright than her Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat and Ruined; it's a sweet, lovely, loving play that never devolves into sappiness, and a small treasure in its own right.

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Terence Alan Smith: The real 'MS. BLAKK' 2019-06-18 - Terence Alan Smith, the Detroit native behind the drag persona Joan Jett Blakk, is still taken aback that a portion of his life ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Prophet$ 2019-06-18 - Playwright: Anthony Tournis At: Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard St. Tickets: or 866-811-4111; $25. Runs through: July 22 Protestant Christianity's ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Emma 2019-06-18 - Author: novel by Jane Austen, stage adaptation by Phil Timberlake At: Lifeline Theatre Company, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. Tickets: or 773-761-4477; $20-$40. ...

Gay News

THEATER SPOTLIGHT Free Street Theater to do five plays in five wards 2019-06-18 - On Sunday June 23, Free Street Theater will mark its 50th anniversary—very few Chicago theaters are older—by performing a play in every Chicago ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-06-18 - La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista @ The Den, extended through 30 June—Last two weeks to see this thrice-remounted musical about Chicago's Latinx history, ...

Gay News

MUSIC LeAnn Rimes goes from 'Blue' to a rainbow 2019-06-18 - Singer LeAnn Rimes career took off at the tender age of 13 years old with a Bill Mack song called "Blue." After reaching ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Saving the World 2019-06-18 - Author: Marc Kelly Smith ( libretto ), Diana Lawrence ( music ) At: Chicago Tap Theatre at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Hedwig' director talks compassion, gender and music 2019-06-18 - Since its off-Broadway premiere, Hedwig and the Angry Inch has garnered a film adaptation, four Tony Awards and a substantial following. Initially, Toma ...

Gay News

Details for 'Dance for Life' set 2019-06-17 - Dance for Life—which mobilizes Chicago's dance community by raising funds through dance—announced updated program information for its annual benefit performance, taking place Saturday, ...

Gay News

'Drag Seed' cast announced 2019-06-17 - Hell in a Handbag Productionshas announced casting for its world premiere of The Drag Seed—an unauthorized parody of the 1956 psychological horror-thriller film ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.