At Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr.
Tickets: 773-728-7529 or Redtwist.org; $35-40.
Runs through: Feb. 10
Between Riverside and Crazy, directed by Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary and produced by Redtwist Theatre, delivers a unique experience to the audience.
Sitting at the periphery of the stage ( the living room of an apartment ), the audience experience a high level of closeness and intimacy with the play that they normally may not have while sitting in a traditional theater observing actors on stage from afar. The audience get to feel the tension, the conflict, the love, and ultimately the humanity among actors right there with them.
This play, by 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, centers on a former Black cop, shot six times by a white cop, and his relationships with his former colleagues, tenants, and family amidst a long drawn-settlement for his injury. The scene is set the stage of the living room in a rent-controlled apartment in New York.
Playwright Guirgis beautifully portrays the dilemma facing a Black cop and the conflicting loyalties and polarizing animosity from both sides. He is forever stuck in the no-man's land, questioned by his own community for his complicity with an institution that consistently oppresses and brutalizes his own people yet untrusted and suspected by his white colleagues because of his racial identity. The poignant dialogue between the cop and his former colleagues captures the essence of the way we see victims: Does one need to be innocent to be a victim? Or is one already presumed guilty by association?
All the actors are great performers, engaging and captivating. Kenneth D. Johnson does an excellent job portraying the ex-cop ( or Walter "Pops Washington ), his bitterness and the rediscovery of his own humanity. Almanya Narula does a brilliant job playing the sassy, headstrong, yet endearing Lulu. Adam Bitterman is outstanding as Lieutenant Caro.
The end of the play is a pleasant surprise, circling back to the humanity of the cop amidst the ugliness in the world. Director Rinska Carrasco-Prestinary does a great job bringing out this play's intensity and tenderness on stage.