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 2019-05-22
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

THEATER REVIEW Topdog/Underdog
by Karen Topham
2018-07-18

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Suzan-Lori Parks

At: Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, 927 Noyes St., Evanston. Tickets: $15; Noyes Cultural Center; 847-866-5915. Runs through: July 29

In the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog, by Suzan-Lori Parks, two brothers struggle with some of the cultural, family, and societal aspects of being young Black men in the United States.

Named Lincoln and Booth by their father for a joke, the boys were abandoned by both parents when they were young and left to take care of each other. Lincoln is the titular "topdog"—older, steadily employed ( as an arcade Abraham Lincoln whom tourists can "shoot" ), possessed of great skill with cards he has used to make a living before and could again. Booth, the younger sibling, can boast only of a ratty apartment, an on-again-off-again relationship with girlfriend Grace and a less-than-adept skill at three-card monte.

Parks paints these siblings with some beautiful language. Of his feelings about the gun used by the tourists are complicated by memories of a best friend gunned down in the streets, Linc says, "The gun is always cold. Winter or summer the gun is always cold. And when the gun touches me he can feel that I'm warm and he knows I'm alive. And if I'm alive then he can shoot me dead. And for a minute, with him hanging back there behind me, it's real."

For his part, Booth is more concerned about his relationship with Grace. In a highly embellished recounting of a night in her company, he says, "She wants me back. She wants me back so bad she wiped her hand over the past where we wasn't together just so she could say. ... She been mine since the dawn of time."

The notion of deception runs throughout almost all of the play. The brothers are never totally honest with each other, both keeping secrets and outright lying. The central card game, too, three-card monte, is notorious for its power to deceive "marks" into believing they have a chance to win when, as Linc points out, "It may look like you got a chance but the only time you pick right is when the man lets you." Both brothers are guilty of not letting the other win in one way or another.

Jelani Pitcher and Keith Illidge are superb as Booth and Lincoln, respectively—each creating just enough sympathy for his character that we can ( almost ) overlook when they do something unkind or even terrible. And Parks' script helps there as well: she creates so many marvelously humorous moments that the audience doesn't have time to anticipate any darkness. Director Tim Rhoze calls the play "a fierce combination of dark comedy and high-stakes drama," and he certainly does his job well in bringing us that combination, both in the pacing of the scenes and in the performances from his actors. I could have done with a lot less of the overwhelming jazz music playing through many scenes, but it did certainly set a mood, which is undoubtedly what Roze wanted. In all, Topdog/Underdog is a powerful piece of theater, and Fleetwood-Jourdain does the play and its author proud.


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.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Pride poetry-slam competition June 12 2019-05-22 - In honor of Chicago's Pride Month, The Blackstone, Center on Halsted and StoryStudio Chicago invite the community to celebrate all things love this ...


Gay News

Xavier MaatRa on produce company, consulting, other pursuits 2019-05-22 - Giving back to the community has been the focus of Xavier MaatRa's professional life and that has culminated in the creation of their ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Crowd You're In With 2019-05-22 - By: Rebecca Gilman At: AstonRep Theatre Company at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St. Tickets: 773-828-9129 or AstonRep.com; $25. Runs through: June 16 ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Mary Shelley's Frankenstein 2019-05-22 - Playwright: adapted by David Catlin from the novel by Mary Shelley At: Lookingglass Theatre Company at the Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Next to Normal 2019-05-22 - Book and Lyrics: Brian Yorkey; Music: Tom Kitt. At: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe Tickets: 847-242-6000 or WritersTheatre.org; $35-$80.Runs through: June ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Crowd You're In With 2019-05-22 - By: Rebecca Gilman At: AstonRep Theatre Company at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St. Tickets: 773-828-9129 or AstonRep.com; $25. Runs through: June 16 ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW La Havana Madrid 2019-05-22 - Playwright: Sandra Delgado At: Teatro Vista/Collaboraction at the Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets: TheDenTheatre.com; $30-$60. Runs through: June 22 ...


Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-05-22 - Late Nite Catechism, Royal George Theatre, open run—On May 26th, Vicki Quade and MariPat Donovan's internationally acclaimed solo show celebrates its 26th-year anniversary ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Killing Game 2019-05-22 - Playwright: Eugene Ionesco, translated by Helen Gary Bishop At: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. Tickets: 312-943-8722; ARedOrchidtheatre.org; $30-$40. Runs through: ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Winter's Tale 2019-05-22 - Playwright: William Shakespeare At: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. Tickets: $20-80; GoodmanTheatre.org/thewinterstale. Runs through: June 9 Why The Winter's Tale? Robert ...


 



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.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



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.