By the Apricot Trees | ETA Creative Arts Foundation | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

By the Apricot Trees Closing (Theater and Galleries) Recommended The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Fridays-Sundays. Continues through April 2 2017

Set in a prison cell in South Africa in the mid-70s, Ntsako Mkhabela’s two-hander is a bleak and claustrophobic work. Based on her mother’s experiences in solitary confinement (her punishment for participating in the 1976 Soweto uprising), this searing drama tells the story of a woman pushed to the brink of insanity by isolation. Still, she finds comfort and a degree of redemption in long rambling conversations with an imaginary companion, an idealized version of her younger self. This isn't a play for those seeking entertainment; it's made of sterner stuff. Mkhabela’s words hit hard, and Kemati Janice Porter, who codirected along with Mkhabela, uses them well in this powerfully staged production. Darryl Goodman’s simple but inspired sound and lighting design go a long way toward creating the look and feel of dark, dank cell. Alicia Watley and Jelani Smith are riveting as, respectively, the prisoner and the companion she hallucinates. —Jack Helbig

Price: $35, $25 seniors, $15 students

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