Raggedy And

By David Valdes Greenwoodraggedy

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.

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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?

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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.

Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk theatre in chicago podcast

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

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Rivendell Theatre

5779 N. Ridge, Chicago, IL 60660