The Member of the Wedding | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

The Member of the Wedding


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING, Organic Theater Company. Carson McCullers's 1950 classic is rarely performed in part because its two main characters are children, a girl of 12 and a boy of 7. Its setting is also difficult to render: a kitchen, back porch, and yard complete with swing and arbor. The play's chief difficulty, however, lies in its subject: a preteen coming to terms with her changing family and a changing world.

The time is 1945, the place a small town in the deep south, where everything is suddenly alien and fragile for Frankie Addams. The immediate crisis is her beloved older brother's imminent marriage, but there are also global changes afoot: war in Europe, the deployment of the atomic bomb, unstable race relations. The confused Frankie seeks solace in the company of John Henry, her meek cousin, and Berenice, the family housekeeper.

McCullers's microcosmic view relies less on plot than on the atmosphere produced by volatile passions. The temptation is to dilute the play's innate tension with sitcom shtick, but director Jonathan Wilson rejects this simplistic approach, as do Meghan and Mick LaRocca, playing the boyish Frankie and the girlish John Henry. These young actors carry off their extensive dialogue and intricate dialects with ease, ably supported by Alma Washington, who gives Berenice dignity and presence. Together they paint a poignant picture of innocence on the brink of extinction.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →