The Raid | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Raid The Short List (Theater) Image Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 12 2015

Playwright Idris Goodwin has a great subject in John Brown, the radical American abolitionist who attempted to trigger a slave revolt in 1859 by raiding the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He's also got a potentially powerful conceit in the idea that Brown's story is told by the unquiet ghosts of his fellow conspirators, who are aware of the 21st-century life going on around them. Not least of all, Goodwin has seen to it that Brown's most devoted follower, an escaped slave known as the Emperor, gets a sensational closing speech. What he hasn't figured out yet is how to make these assets coalesce into something worthy of them. As it stands now, Goodwin's new play suffers from expository overkill, loads of interesting but useless historical information, and a failure to develop the Emperor into the dramatic linchpin he should be. Kaiser Zaki Ahmed's staging gets in the way more often than not—literally so in the case of a poorly placed floor light. —Tony Adler

Price: $15-$20

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