Kill Move Paradise, Graveyard Shift, Sheepdog, 365 Ways to Kill An American, and now also Redtwist’s Rabbit Summer, and more--- Chicago theaters and filmmakers have been trying to get us to wrap our head around the issues that inform the Black Lives Matter movement.
Redtwist Theater Presents Play by Tracey Coyner Lee
Rabbit Summer tackles this political topic in a character-driven story, and this reviewer thinks you will likely take a shining to this production to the extent that you find the characters and their conflicts real and /or meaningful.
There are only three characters. We meet husband and wife, Wilson (Kevin Tre’Von Patterson) and Ruby (Brooke Reams), when their young daughter is away at summer camp. Wilson sees this as an opportunity to kill the rabbit, as it was called before home pregnancy tests were available. He wants a son. As we get to know him, we see how having this son is a much needed validation for Wilson. In this writer’s view, playwright Tracey Coyner Lee’s portrait of the selfishness somewhere in the mix of any drive to procreate is poignant. As the play progresses, however, we find out the many reasons why his wife Ruby isn’t necessarily on board with the idea of bringing another human into our messy world. When Ruby invites her now grief stricken college friend Claire (Deveon Bromby) to stay with them, it puts a dent in Wilson’s love nest plans. Add to the mix, that Claire is grieving her true love’s murder by police, and the fact that Wilson is a cop.
Aha! Perhaps these three characters imagined by playwright Lee are indeed more than enough to paint a landscape of the same pain that has engendered the Black Lives Matter movement.
For this writer, it is Patterson’s portrayal of Wilson that especially makes this production recommended as a good use of your time, and even more so if you care deeply about Black and Blue issues. He inhabits this character completely—a man, who because of the particulars of his pedigree, aims to be that cringe worthy moniker of a credit to his race. Patterson’s timing and voice inflection, such as when he calls Claire “sweat pants”— an early nickname he coined for her‑go along way in making this script come to life.
DeveonBromby’s caustic Claire is also someone we have all met along the way, even if we don’t personally know someone widowed by the police. Then there’s Ruby, perhaps a bit familiar to some as that rescuer personality without an iota of self-awareness. That said, and without spoilers, in this story it’s mainly the Ruby character who is burdened with bringing off the twists and turns of the plot line.
If you, like this writer, find the story implausible, you can’t fault Reams’ performance, given what she has to work with. Rather, you too may find yourself keeping your attention especially on Patterson’s stand out performance. The many theater-goers who especially love plays that focus most on dynamics between characters will likely find this a top pick.
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
Brooke Reams (Ruby); Deveon Bromby (Claire); Kevin Tre’Von Patterson (Wilson)
Understudies: Song Marshall (U/S Ruby); Alexis Ward (U/S Claire); Austyn Williamson (U/S Wilson)
Christopher Burris (Director), Tracey Conyer Lee (Playwright), Zeenah Hussein (Stage Manager), Lauren Grace Thompson (Production Manager), Alexis Black (Fight/Intimacy Director)*, Megan Turnquist (Lighting Designer), Sebby Woldt (Sound Designer), Alyssa Mohn (Scenic Designer), Satoe Scheckner (Costume Designer), Eren Ahn (Props Designer), Derek Lee McPhatter (Dramaturg), Cal Walker (Assistant Stage Manger), Alex Nelson (Technical Director), Julia Skeggs (Casting Director)*, Ari Craven (Graphic Designer)*, Charlie Marie McGrath (Producer)*
Through March 22, 2020
Fri, Sat at 7:30pm
Sun at 3pm
Run time: 110 minutes, with one intermission
1044 W. Bryn Mawr
Chicago, IL 60660