For many, just spending time in the Strawdog Theatre space to read the informative displays about the Holodomor will make the trip to see Red Theater’s production of SICKLE worthwhile. If you—like this writer and also the play’s director Elizabeth Lovelady we learn in the program, have never heard the term before—you are not alone.
Red Theater Introduces Us to a New Barbarism
Sharing a space of the shelf where human barbarities like holocausts and genocides are filed, “holodomor” refers to the specific Stalinist invention of systematically starving the UkraInian population being absorbed into the Soviet Union. Against the backdrop of forced collectivization of peasants’ farms, men were killed or hauled off to Siberia, and women were left to farm and meet the impossibly high production quotas set by the Soviet masters. It was a slow starvation and it ended with black flags going up on village after village, signaling that all who had lived there were now starved to death. Along the way cannibalism reigned in many quarters. Broken and starved, many in the population became insane.
Difficult though it is to imagine what these horrors felt like on the ground, that is exactly what playwright Abbey Fenbert sets out to do in her script Sickle. The five actresses in this cast give it their all. We are left with a somewhat sick feeling in our stomach, having sat with the subject matter for more than 90 minutes. For this writer though, the attempts by this script to give an unthinkable an everyday reality some how didn’t add up, and at many points bogged us down in backstories without seeming purpose. That said it’s good to know though, that there are layers in the Russia vs. Ukraine stories of today that we hadn’t imagined. Knowing yet another chapter in humanity’s cruelty may help sober us to anticipate a greater range of human possibilities.
Director: Elizabeth Lovelady
ANNA: Moira Begale
IRYNA: Christine Vrem-Ydstie
HALKA: Catherine Dvorak
NADYA: Katherine Bourne
YASIA: Brittany Ellis
Thru July 29
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays 8 PM (No performance July 5)
Sundays 4:00 PM
Added performances: Monday July 2 and Monday July 9
1802 W Berenice Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
For tickets call 773 733 0540 or visit the Red Theater website.
Photos courtesy of Red Theater
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago
About the Author: Amy Munice
Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.
Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.