Red Velvet | Raven Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Red Velvet Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 27 2016

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that black American actor Ira Aldridge’s unprecedented appearance as Othello on a London stage in 1833 caused some discomfort, consternation and outrage in the white theatrical establishment. Yet British playwright Lolita Chakrabarti spends nearly the entire first act of her 2012 play demonstrating the obvious, often repetitively. Moreover, both Aldridge and his castmates seem bewildered by critics’ virulently racist attacks in act two—as if they can’t fathom such responses in an empire that hasn’t fully abolished slavery. Despite glancing references to contemporary issues like nontraditional casting, the play feels like an unconvincing museum piece, culminating in not one but two overwrought climaxes. Under Michael Menendian’s serviceable direction, this Raven Theatre premiere can’t enliven an overly demonstrative script. —Justin Hayford

Price: $43, seniors $38, students $21

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