REVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Beauty’s Daughter

A Chicago premiere.

By Dael Orlandersmith.

Directed by Ron OJ Parsons.

Produced by American Blues Theater.

At Stage 773, Chicago.

“I touched the shoes of Mary Magdalene/on Avenue D. . . .,” from Beauty’s Daughter.

Stunning heartfelt performance of a gritty look at a life story is a gem.

Director Ron OJ Parson has the task of guiding famed actress Wandachristine through playwright Dael Orlandersmith’s poetic lyrical journey of Diane’s life in East Harlem. The writing is wonderful, full of vivid glimpses into the rawness of Harlem life.

In 85 minutes, we hear about Diane’s story as it is hers from puberty to her early 30’s. Her adventures include is an Irish boyfriend who took her to Dublin but didn’t love her.  A married Italian who loved her as she became her muse but he went home with his wife. A blind junkie musician who will be her friend only when he gives him money for drugs. There is a high-school classmate who beggs her to write her paper for him for $10 per page. And her girlfriend who  wants to have sex with her  and finally her alcoholic mother who shouts insults, calling her a failure.

All of the above, the character, six in all, depict Diane’s struggles and her Harlem associates. Wandachristine, in one of the strongest tour de force performances I have ever witnessed, efectively ebodies each charter, men, women, old and young with stunning acurate accents, gesturs, vocal tones in he course of delivering a powerful solo show. The writing contains vivid imagery, exceptional thythms and smart allusions. Thes characters would be difficult to cast and almost impossible for an African-American women to play. But Wandachristine skills,  craftmenship, and full comittment gave her an edge that comes across wonderfully. She becomes all six characters as  each depicts the life struggles of Harlem existence. Wandachristine’s performance eeks of honesty and sincerity; she is a force of nature. She proves that she is among the finest actors working on stage today!  She makes Orlandersmith’s lyrical writing come alive. This is 85 minutes of brilliant storytelling by two geniuses: Wandachristine and Orlandersmith.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Jeff Recommended.

At Stage 773, 1225 Belmont, Chicago, IL, call773-327-5252,, tickets $19 – $49, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 85 minutes without intermission, through August 5, 2017.