Insurrection: Holding History | Athenaeum Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Insurrection: Holding History The Short List (Theater) Image Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Feb. 11 2018

Robert O’Hara’s unrestrained 1996 play began as a graduate thesis project, which may explain the preference for fanciful iconoclasm over boring old theatrical fundamentals. Ron, a doctoral candidate in slave history, shares a psychic link with his mute 189-year-old great-great-grandfather TJ, a former slave—yet somehow Ron doesn’t know until the day before his thesis on Nat Turner is due that TJ participated in Turner’s rebellion. TJ whisks Ron back to his 1831 slave quarters, where Ron remains largely incurious, learning little except that terribly mistreated slaves willingly risked death for freedom. Along the way O’Hara employs all manner of outrageous metatheatricality to great comic effect (his recasting of Turner as a proto-televangelist is exquisite), all well played in director Wardell Julius Clark’s production. But O’Hara’s insights rarely stretch beyond the self-evident. —Justin Hayford

Price: $32, $22 students and seniors

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