Directed by Cassy Sanders
Produced by Theatre Seven of Chicago
At the Steppenwolf Garage Theatre, Chicago
Haunting look at life around a Chicago public housing project
In Christina Anderson’s interesting play, Blacktop Sky, we meet 18 year old Ida (Kristin E. Ellis), a resident of a Chicago housing project. she slowly befriends a young homeless man who lives on a bench in the project’s courtyard after she witness police rough up a fellow project resident. Ida slowly is allowed into Klass’ (Julian Parker) world where he retreats into his escape from reality by fixing household items he finds and shining pots and pans. It is June but Klass wears his hooded winter parka. Ida realizes that Klass is a young man with a history of parental abuse from parents who are now deceased. Ida moves form being frightened of Klass to furious to friendly toward. Klass is a loved-starved independent loner.
We also see how Ida and her boyfriend Wynn (Eric Lynch) have a loving yet controlling relationship by Wynn who resents her interest in Klass. The initial interaction between Ida, Wynn and Klass revolves around Klass possession of Ida’s house keys. Fear of homeless folks fuels the couple’s reluctance to confront the homeless youth.
Blacktop Sky also demonstrates how, once verbal communication brakes down, frustration leads to violence between folks. In the tough project community live is hard and the urge to upgrade one’s life by leaving the projects dominates. In this 85 minute one-act, I wish I’d learn more of Klass’ back story since he is fascinating character. I was particular impressed by Julian Parker’s portrait of the quirky homeless man. Blacktop Sky is a engrossing look at the struggle for love and acceptance in urban project life. It is worth a look.
As part of the Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep series along with Buzz Chicago’s She Kills Monsters and See What I Wanna See by Bailiwick Chicago, at Steppenwolf’s Garage Theatre, 1624 N Halsted, Chicago, IL, call 312-335-1650, www.steppenwolf.org, tickets $20 for each show or $45 for a three-play pass, Blacktop Sky is 90 minutes without intermission, in rep until April 21, 2013