Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Stoop Stories

Written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith

Dael Orlandersmith
Dael Orlandersmith

Directed by Jo Bonney

At the Goodman Owen Theatre

Electrifying journey through Harlem is a spirited, poetic solo piece

Dael Orlandersmith sure loves both her native Harlem and words. Her haunting performance contains the truth of living and spilling out your stories on the ‘stoop’ (front steps of an  apartment building). Dael deftly mixes poetry and realism into a portrait of Harlem’s forgotten people. Characters such as an elderly Polish Holocaust survivor who has a change meeting with  Billie Holiday; to a poetic young junkie; to a teenage Puerto Rican punk; to a washed-up rock n’ roll  star; to a 70 year old New Yorker heading to the West Village to see Nina Simone are illuminated with skill by Dael. She has a respect for people and a reverence for words, books and ideas. They allowed her to escape the trappings of the low life in Harlem.

Dael’s one person show combines theater, poetry, music and performance art into a strongly emotional look at life in Harlem. On the stoop is where Dael and her characters pour out  their collective hearts out. Their stories are seldom heard but Dael gives new life to them with her skillful performances. Audiences will gain new insights into the struggles of Harlem existence.  Dael hold us for the 65 minute performance.


Tom Williams

At the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL, call 312-443-3800, Tickets $10 – $40, Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 7:30pm, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 7:30 pm, running time is 65 minutes without intermission.

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