Within the Dream | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Within the Dream

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WITHIN THE DREAM, Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre, at Victory Gardens Theater. MPAACT's production of Deidre Searcy's multimedia play testifies to the steady improvement of this small, dedicated company. Although the decidedly undancerly troupe still struggles with demanding, often vague choreography meant to signify emotional or symbolic moments, the actors have begun to find a strikingly fluid ensemble energy that's particularly effective in this production. Shepsu Aakhu's quietly virtuosic musical accompaniment, with its blend of eras and styles, keeps the energy going.

The play explores the gap between the civil rights generation and their children, as Searcy combines a mythopoetic collage of images from the 60s with vignettes from 30 years in one family's life. Daryl Charisse and Terry Cullers are particularly effective as the parents, while Mignon McPherson and Carla Stillwell give intelligence and a sense of commitment to the younger generation's point of view. Unfortunately, the script repeats a few clunky metaphors like mantras; Generation X is solemnly declared "a generation unable to sign its name" one too many times. But the family scenes are poignant, funny, and dynamic, particularly in the context of the video collages that flicker throughout the show.

Within the Dream offers an important reminder: the meaning of revolution may change for each generation, but the shared legacy of past struggles can create a powerful communal vision.

--Carol Burbank

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