Fucking A

By Suzan-Lori ParksFucking A

Directed by Richard Perez

Produced by Urban Theater Company

in association with Pegasus Players

At the former Hull House and Black Ensemble Theatre’s home

Slowly paced and rambling production of the troubled Parks’ drama fizzles

I have been an admirer of the terrific work produced by Urban Theater company over the last couple of years under the leadership of Ivan Vega (Executive Director) and Madrid St. Angelo (Artistic Director). They usually select provocative stage worthy plays that stretch theatricality to new levels. Unfortunately, their latest production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Fucking A unfolds as a poor production of a troubled, boring and totally depressing play. I question why any theatre company would produce such a horrible play?

Fucking A

Taking some of the themes from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, with dystopian themes presented with a series of disjointed scenes and muddled with six or seven atonal songs, Fucking A plays as a boring, slowly-paced depressing 2 hours.

Fucking A

This bleak affair centers on  Hester (Kelly Owen) the town abortionist who seeks revenge on the  Mayor (Kamal Hans) and his wife (Ameita Shaliwal) for having her son imprisoned for theft.  We see a series of  disjointed episodes that early took me out of the story since I had no one to relate to. Most of the characters where unlikable dysfunctional and those poorly sung songs just seemed to be out of place. I believe Parks was trying to emulate Bertolt Brecht’s absurdist style. The awkward staging that uses all points of the old Black Ensemble Theatre’s space didn’t serve the production well. My problem is more with the script then with the staging. The work was too slowly paced and the performances ran from excellent (Madrid St. Angelo) to over-the-top agonizing performances.  The loose structure never hooked me nor got me to care about anyone. The lack of character development and the scattered focus left me cold. The use of a form of pig-Latin called “Talk” to describe female sexuality was gimmicky at best. The unfocused storyline became tedious and the spotty acting gave the work an under rehearsed feel.

Fucking A

I’m not sure who the audience is for this strange play? I believe that Susan-Lori Parks is an over-rated playwright since much of her work is provocative just to be provocative.  Maybe I’m just tired of plays about apocalyptic world populated by nasty troubled folks?  Don’t give up on the talented folks at Urban Theater Company because they selected an unmanageable  play. They’ll continue to offer stage worthy theatre. Unfortunately, Fucking A is as offensive as its title.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 25, 2012

For more info checkout the Fucking A page at theatreinchicago.com

At Pegasus Players (the former Black Ensemble Theater’s space) at 4520 N. beacon St., Chicago, IL, call 312-239-8783, www.urbantheater.org, tickets $20, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7pm. Sundays at 3pm, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes, through April 15, 2012