Dutchman and TRANSit

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Dutchman.

By Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)

Directed by Chuck Smith.

Produced by American Blues Theater.

At the Greenhouse Theatre, Chicago.

1964 race play still cares powerful rage.

New York subway in 1964, the Dutchman finds Clay (Michael Pogue), a tall well-dressed African-American man in his late  twenty’s reading as he rise alone in a subway car. He appears as an upwardly mobile success-driven man. His solitude is shaken when a blond-blues eyed white woman arrives eating an apple.  With many seats available, Lula (Amanda Drinkall) decides to sit with Clay on his two-seat bench.

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Lula is a flamboyant aggressive person with her sights on Clay; he is a polite gentleman. As Lula’s flirtatious actions escalate into clearly sexual advances, Clay is flattered and interested. But Lula’s manipulative tactics turn into rage fueling guilt and uncomfortable reactions from Clay. As the train ride continues, Lula’s angry tirade allows her to turn on Clay who eventually defends his social status in a powerful monologue that leads to violence from Lula. This powerfully scary 45 minute one-act drama vividly demonstrates the rage that white folks feel toward African-Americans thus producing rage from African-Americans. This cautionary tale illustrated a social dynamic that  still lingers to day after more than 50 years. Amanda Drinkall is sensual, hate-filled and psychotic while Michael Pogue is steady, controlled yet his rage explodes upon the extreme actions from Lula. These two actors gave expert performances as the tension moves from sexy to pure race hatred. This drama will shake you to your core.

Highly Recommended

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Commissioned by American Blues Theater to write a contemporary “response” to Dutchman’s “call,” Darren Canady used folks on a subway train to comment on the state of race in America. Here is the result:

TRANSit.

By  Darren Canady.

Directed by Lisa Portes.

Produced by American Blues Theater.

At the Greenhouse Theatre, Chicago.

Riveting contemporary rage still lingers.

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As a response to the Dutchman, Darren Canady’s TRANSit deals with Veronica (Manny Buckley), a transgendered woman of color who is quite sensitive to most everyone as she struggles for her identify. Her friend, Luke (Jake Szaczepaniak), a white gay man tries to be loyal, understanding and supportive toward the ultra-sensitive Veronica. When a subway entertainer, Lalo ( Edgar Miguel Sanchez) uses his energetic acrobatic pole dancer to flirt with Veronica, her defensive reaction fuels aggressive reactions from the street kid in Lalo. These two engage in a weird sensual game that leads to violence once Lalo realizes who Veronica actually is. Veronica’s rage is turned on Luke in the final scene. Manny Buckley, Edgar Miguel Sanchez and Jake Szaczepaniak  gave strong honest performances with just enough hidden rage to carry the piece.

These two companion one-acts are riveting, explosive and truthful as simmering racial (and gender) rage explode today as it did in the 1960’s. Both works will upset and  get audiences aware of the cancer of racism and gender hatred that eats away at our society. Dramatizing can be the first step toward a solution – hopefully. See these two powerful one-acts.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Date Reviewed: September 2, 2016

Both works are Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Dutchman/TRANSit page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, www.americanbluestheater.com, tickets $19 -$49, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Saturday matinee at 3 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 45 minutes for each with a 10 minute intermission, through September 25, 2016