Raven Theatre HOODOO LOVE Review – Memphis Blues and Love

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It's pretty barren down in Memphis during the years after slavery is abolished. It feels like a depression-like era as a cluster of shacks sit at the end of a dusty road. Threadbare sheets make up the bed, and a patched tin roof barely seems to hold up. But two things remain beacons of hope for the folks that live here. In HOODOO LOVE, love is what keeps people together, and a musical dream is what they're chasing.

Raven Theatre HOODOO LOVE
(pictured) Shariba Rivers

Raven Theatre Playin’ the Blues

Toulou has built a life for herself in this ramshackle house neighboring the local madam, Candylady. She's run away from Mississippi to follow her dream of becoming a blues singer. However, she’s enamoured with another aspiring artist, Ace of Spades, whose always catching the train on to the next town, never sticking around for too long.

Raven Theatre HOODOO LOVE
(left to right) Martasia Jones and Matthew James Elam
Raven Theatre HOODOO LOVE
(left to right) Martasia Jones and Shariba Rivers

With the help of Candylady, she casts a hex on Ace to always have him keep a piece of her heart with him. Though she might get what she wants, the charm is not without its consequences. Ghosts from her past rear their heads, and they find perhaps having the love you want, isn’t the one you need the most.

Bonding Relationships

The cast delivers deep feelings within their characters, by this writer’s lights. Candylady’s and Toulou’s friendship sparks when Shariba Rivers and Martasia Jones are on stage. When Toulou’s brother played by Christopher Wayland Jones shows up at her door, we can feel the daggers shooting out of her eyes as he tries to weasel his way into her life.  We also feel the dreams of Toulou and Ace, played by Jones and Matthew James Elam, as they both struggle to make their music. Ace grapples with making his mark on the blues, while Toulou fights to get noticed at all. And even though their love might be one sided, they show an intimate and troubled relationship.

Raven Theatre HOODOO LOVE
(left to right) Martasia Jones, Christopher Wayland Jonesand Shariba Rivers

Heavy Subject Matter

These are weighty personal issues, and we feel them too.  We feel what it is like to love someone who is never around, to try to make your way in a troubled family, and how unexpected pregnancies can turn life upside down. All of this happens in the context of the aftereffects of slavery.  HOODOO LOVE gives us a picture of how and why these characters had such a strong stake in establishing themselves in this new blues genre.

HOODOO LOVE is a drama piece filled with highs and lows. If you’re not interested in a drama, this one might not be for you. But if you like shows where characters face off against odds stacked against them, it’s a good fit for you.

Raven Theatre HOODOO LOVE
(left to right) Matthew James Elam, Martasia Jones, Christopher Wayland Jonesand Shariba Rivers
Raven Theatre HOODOO LOVE
(left to right) Matthew James Elamand Martasia Jones

RECOMMENDED

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

Click here to read more Picture This Post Raven Theatre stories.

Title: HOODOO LOVE
Playwright: Katori Hall
Director: Wardell Julius Clark
Music Director: The Ricky Harris

CAST

Matthew James Elam
Christopher Wayland Jones
Martasia Jones
Shariba Rivers

CREATIVE

Sydney Lynne Thomas (scenic design), Alexis Chaney (costume design), Sim Carpenter (lighting design), Jeffrey Levin (sound design), Dana Macel (props design), Rachel Flesher (intimacy and violence design), Catherine Miller (casting director), Cole von Glahn (artistic producer), Kiayla Ryann (assistant director), Bobby Huggins (technical director), Beckie Price (assistant costume designer), Eileen Rozycki (scenic artist), Lena Aubrey (master electrician), Elizabeth VanHaren (stage manager) and Lucy Whipp (assistant stage manager).

When:

Through December 22, 2019

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Sundays at 3 pm.
Please note: there will be an added performance on Monday, November 25 at 7:30 pm
there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 28 at 7:30 pm.

Where

Raven Theatre’s Schwartz Stage
6157 N. Clark St. (at Granville)
Chicago

Tickets

$41+

For full price tickets and ticket availability visit Raven Theatre website or by calling (773) 338-2177

Check for Half-Price Deals from Hot Tix:

Photos by Michael Brosilow

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

Alexis Bugajski Photo: Liz Lin

About the Author

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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