Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Ten Square

By Shepsu Aakhutensquare by shepsu Aakhu

Directed by Mignon McPherson Nance

produced by MPAACT and Pegasus Players

At O’Rourke Center at Truman College

Vague futuristic view of a dystopian world fizzles into cliches

MPAACT and Pegasus Players have mounted Shepsu Aakhu’s world premiere drama, Ten Square. This futuristic look into the world of African-Americans after the federal government’s Reparations Movement issued checks to the relatives of slaves. For reasons not clearly articulated in Aakhu’s  script, the “New America” became a nightmare for most African-Americans as Chicago was divided into two cities–the North Chicago and the South Chicago.  These two cities are divided by a high, barbed-wired wall peopled by armed military determined to shot to kill anyone attempting to escape to North Chicago. We only learn bits and pieces as to when and why the South Chicago become a walled ghetto.

TEN SQUARE  by Shepsu Aakhu

I had a hard time hearing and understanding the low volume from several cast members whose dialect and fast speech patterns rendered much of the dialogue unintelligible. This severely hurt the production in the cavernous stadium theatre space at Truman College.

Roosevelt (Leonard House) is a ‘trigga nigga’ who patrols the ‘kill zone’ at the border between North and South Chicago.   He is part of the new social order fueled by patriotism, fanaticism and basic survival instincts of the citizens. This concept may have work if Aakhu’s script was more focused and better articulated the story. I had such a hard time following the speeches  as I kept wondering what this play was about?

Was it a social satire, a black comedy, or political fable? The tone sure was serious and darkly foreboding. The most impressive thing in this over-written work was Jessica Kuehnau’s set aptly depicting  a prison wall. The story was  vague, predictable, cliche ridden and unfocused. The mumbling by the principal actors hurt any development of drama. I simply couldn’t understand why a basically good man like Roosevelt would take a job shooting folks? These people were his neighbors as he lived in South Chicago. The play makes no sense since we never understand why 2 million African-Americans are trapped in this ten square miles of city.

Ten Square needs to be rethought and trimmed into a more focused original story. As it now plays, too much is unexplained and too much dialogue is unintelligible rendering the work as a muddled contrivance.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

At Truman College, O’Rourke Center, 1145 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL, call 773-878-9761, tickets $17 -$20 – $25, Thursday thru Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission.

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