The Revelation | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Revelation

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Bronze Productions, at TurnAround Theatre.

The six African American women in Cheryl Katherine-Wash's play begin as easily recognizable types, but then the playwright supposedly strips away the layers of artifice. The first act is light comedy, taking us to a dinner party being given by fast-track lawyer Tomika. Here we meet Tomika's sassy sitcom maid and her old friends from the 'hood: a leather-jacketed, foulmouthed tough; a gospel-preaching community activist; a back-to-the-roots Afrocentrist; and a flaky artiste. The second act is spent deconstructing the stereotypes. The lawyer is a wannabe desperately striving to fit into the white corporate world. The snide maid is a self-loathing drug addict. The tough woman is married to a drug dealer who beats her, the churchgoing woman is living in sin, the Afrocentrist is ashamed of her African heritage, and the artiste is a lesbian.

Despite a few witty lines, some passably interesting Biblical references, and a couple of sharp performances in Bronze Productions' premiere, The Revelation never amounts to much because, rather than finding the truths hidden behind the stereotypes, Katherine-Wash just substitutes a second set of stereotypes for the first. Instead of dialogue we get sloganeering on the order of "I am somebody" and "Just say no." Clumsily proceeding from one pat conversation to another and from one unremarkable surprise to the next, the play begins as a sitcom and concludes as a trite, "life affirming" TV movie of the week. Director Sanford Brantley--who seems unsure whether this is a comedy, a satire, or a challenging drama with a few funny lines--winds up with a tentative production of a play sorely in need of a rewrite.

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