Jitney | Athenaeum Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Jitney Closing (Theater and Galleries) Recommended The Short List (Theater) Image

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

Congo Square Theatre's intimate staging of August Wilson's moving drama is an emotionally resonant ensemble piece. Set in a dumpy storefront in Pittsburgh's depressed Hill District in 1977, the play concerns a group of men who operate an unlicensed car service since regular taxis will not venture into their ghetto neighborhood. They are faced with a crisis: the city plans to shut down their station and demolish the neighborhood to make way for new housing that may never get built. The principal focus is on two characters involved in troubled relationships. Youngblood (Malcolm Banks), a young driver, is working extra shifts to raise money for a house for himself, his lover, Rena (Ramissa Ma'at), and their two-year-old son, but Rena thinks the often-absent Youngblood is cheating on her. And Becker (Lee Palmer), the head of the jitney operation, is forced to confront the 39-year-old son (Ronald L. Conner) he has not spoken to for 20 years, since the younger man was imprisoned for killing a white woman who falsely accused him of rape. Director Cheryl Lynn Bruce and her superb cast sensitively capture the blend of gritty realism and elegiac poetry that place Wilson at the forefront of American drama alongside Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams. —Albert Williams

Price: $37, $22 students


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