Lawd, the CVS Is Burning | Greenhouse Theater Center | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Lawd, the CVS Is Burning Recommended The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 22 2015

MPAACT—the MAAT Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre—channels outrage into outrageousness in this Adult Swim-style comedy inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. When a young black man dies in the custody of Chicago police, the official explanation is that he hanged himself. While sitting in the back of the squad car. Handcuffed. The Englewood community's reaction ranges from anger to blame-the-victim self-righteousness, finally climaxing in violence—the televised spanking of a protester by his mother, who becomes a media celebrity. With a libretto by director Carla Stillwell and a score by onstage keyboardist Shawn Wallace, the show revels in caricatures, performed with over-the-top enthusiasm by a talented cast. Among them: a token-negro reporter for cable news network "BSN" (Benjamin Timothy Jenkins), who invokes both "Chiraq" and "Beirut" to describe "the hood"; his anchorman (Jackson Pearl), a rhythmically challenged white guy with a case of jungle fever; and a pompous preacher (Lauren Wells). And then there's Mama, played in drag by Quinton Guyton, a very large, very funny man with a fabulous tenor voice. Mama's a Bible-thumping ballbuster who calls her protester son (Max Thomas) "N-word" in order to be politically correct and prays to the picture of "Black Jesus" she keeps hanging on her wall, leading the cast in a series of gospel-tinged numbers with refrains like "I'm a good black mama / So I had to beat his ass." Though in need of sharpening—it doesn't end so much as it runs out of steam—this 80-minute one-act is laugh-out-loud funny as it uses mockery to drive home its message of anger at the way things are and despair that they won't improve. —Albert Williams

Price: $16-$33


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