By David Valdes Greenwood
Directed by Cecilie Keenan
Produced by Pride Films & Plays
At Rivendell Theater, Chicago
Unique casting makes this comedy of manners honest
Playwright David Valdes Greenwood’s world premiere Raggedy And is a ultramodern comedy of manners filled with a contemporary American family with special attributes. Clem (Katurah Nelson) is the African-American lesbian mother who runs a building construction business. She is married to Ondi (Delia Kr0pp), who both in real life and in this play is a transgender actress. Her character is a poet and college professor. Their child (from Ondi’s sperm from before he became transgender and carried by Clem) is their son Ben (Averis Anderson). This is a loving family, with Clem being tough and Ondi the sweet one while young Ben is the sensitive one.
The family celebrates the election of the first female president of the US, whom Ben campaigned for. After having several unfulfilled relationships with women, Ben falls in love with the smart and charismatic campaign operative Jayden (Manuel Ortiz). Ben’s parents are suspicious. When Ben brings Jayden home to meet Clem and Ondi, Jayden announces that he has determined that Ondi will speak at the female president’s inaugural as the new poet laureate. Ondi is flattered until she realizes that she will be listed as a “transgender” person. She resists being so characterized and pigeon-holed. That dynamic and the issue of whether Ben is really gay make for a funny yet telling discussion of how and what should a person’s personal identity be. Is who one is now best be defined by who one was or do labels put a stigma on a person?
The well pl0tted comedy of manners contains smart political ideas and maneuvers by Jayden as the political operative who believes he has all the answers to “political correctness.” Ortiz is terrific here but Delia Kropp bravely reflects her reality in a honest presentation of the foibles of being “transgender.” This play is interesting, heartfelt, honest, and funny. It deals effectively about subjects that need to be explored through theatre.
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Date Reviewed: March 11, 2016
For more info checkout the Raggedy and page at theatreinchicago.com
At Rivendell Theater, 5779 N. Ridge, Chicago, IL, call 1-800-737-0984, www.pridefilmsandplays.com, tickets $22 – $27, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through April 10, 2016