No Place to be Somebody | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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No Place to be Somebody


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Charles Gordone's Pulitzer winner hasn't lost an ounce of intensity in 33 years. James Bagnall revives Stage Actors Ensemble's 1994 staging (directed by David A. Mason), turning up the heat on the saga of Johnny Williams, a Chicago pimp and would-be gangster who blows his chance to escape the hate-driven death trip he's been on all his life. Stephan Turner repeats his riveting portrayal of doomed, misogynistic hard-ass Johnny, a man so obsessed with white folks he can't tell who his friends are. (Turner must warm up for the role by spitting red-hot nails at the rest of the cast.) Ric Walker as the narrator is almost as magnetic as Al Boswell was eight years ago: the character's prose poems drive home the play's harrowing message about races bringing out the worst in each other. Though this 150-minute play is occasionally meandering and swollen, the script still delivers a raw, streetwise slice of life that definitely conveys the despairing message of the title. Performance Loft, Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, 656 W. Barry, 773-529-8337. November 23-24: Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 6 PM. Then December 7-21: Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 6 PM. $15.

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