Directed by Anthony Irons
Produced by Congo Square Theatre Company
At Chicago Center For the Performing Arts
Hilarious sketch comedy pokes fun at Black stereotypes
Congo Square Theatre Company, long an excellent presence in the Chicago theatre scene, is back under new management with George C. Wolfe’s groundbreaking sketch comedy, The Colored Museum. Director Anthony Irons has cast a terrific group of talented Equity players adapt at comedy. Ron Conner, Bakestra King, Ericka Ratcliff, Alexis J. Rogers and Samuel G. Roberson, Jr. pour energy, comic shops, and over-the-top acting to garner enough belly laughs to satisfy.
George C. Wolfe’s wild comedy pulls no punches as it satirizes, with exaggerated images of black life, by accentuating the extreme stereotypes of blacks in 11 sketches or “museum exhibits” in the 1980’s. The performance style is pure sketch comedy ala Second City with short vignettes that finds the actors quickly moving in time and space.
Wolfe’s sketches bravely risk offending some especially in the first skit that finds an airline attendant telling the passengers on a slave ship to attach their iron shackles before departure. She goes on to state “No Drums” and that “you’ll suffer for 200 years before you get relief.” She reminds the passengers to state: “I will not rebel.” This is strong stuff!
We see the colored cooking show: “Cooking with Aunt Ethel” set in a plantation in the Old South. We meet smiling models posing for Ebony magazine; a dead soldier from a distant war echos the “secret Pain” all soldiers experience.
A drag queen, Miss Roj (expertly played by Ron Conner) steals the show. Alexis J. Rogers anchors the “mama on the couch” sketch that neatly parodies those touring black melodramas that periodically invade Chicago. Gospel musicals, black female acts in Europe and disco party girls become objects of satire. Dead black celebrities come to life; wigs scorn their owner; and most images and truism of black life are brutally yet honestly ridiculed . Humor abounds in this fast-paced in-your-face comedy. It will offend some but the opening night audience laughed themselves silly. The performers nailed the spirit of the piece. This show is fun! It is refreshing to see Congo Square Theatre back producing shows.
At the Green Street Theatre, 777 N. Green Street, Chicago, IL, call 312-733-6000, www.theaterland.com, tickets $25, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission.