Shante's Reality Check | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Shante's Reality Check


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Shante's Reality Check, Michelle D. Ivy Productions, at the Athenaeum Theatre. "Remember, you can always walk away," state both the program and the poster for this play about domestic abuse, and it's obvious that this show is meant to be empowering. But Michelle D. Ivy's original script is uninspiring. Instead of focusing on one central abusive relationship, Shante's Reality Check casts a wide net. We meet Shante (played by Ivy, who also directs) and her one-dimensional boyfriend Tyrone, plus Shante's bickering friends, her mother, Tyrone's buddies, and other fleeting figures--all of them providing opportunities for the play to hit the kind of unsurprising plot points we might expect from an after-school special. But the writing provides more filler than dramatic action. Confrontations lack drama because their buildup is nonexistent. The dialogue lacks subtlety, and one scene contradicts the next. The amateur cast doesn't help matters as its members veer from overacting to not reacting at all.

Shante keeps telling us she's "going through a lot with Tyrone," but we see too little of this relationship. Cutting the superfluous characters in favor of developing the central pair might have given this play momentum; and Ivy needs to place her heroine in more realistic situations if this play is to have any impact on an audience, let alone victims of abuse.

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