Words on the Street | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Words on the Street

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Words on the Street, DMG Productions, at Donny's Skybox Theatre. An anthology resulting from six weeks of collective development, this evening features songs, sketches, improv games, and poetry from 18 artists seeking to share an African-American perspective on the human experience. For the most part, director Claudia M. Wallace and ensemble keep things light and loose. Each three to five minutes we meet a new set of quirky characters: a quartet of catfighting choir ladies vying for a handsome deacon's attention; a barber (Jason Ball) who sees racism in everything (he views millionaire sports stars as slaves and Colin Powell as "the biggest house nigger this country's ever seen"); a blond anchorwoman for North Shore News (Robin Thede) wistfully longing--Little Mermaid style--to be part of the hood; and a ventriloquist act featuring a debate over the size and prowess of the dummy's woody. No need to think too hard; just sit back and laugh. But the heart of the evening rests in the hands of poets Still Black See and Cornelius Flowers, whose raw, thoughtful expression surprises us all the more by being tucked between the breezy fare. Particularly powerful is a first-act sequence in which See represents himself as cause and effect of his environment--a pimp, a hater, a statue pissing on the unripe fruit of everyone around him--and Flowers follows with a more hopeful stance, an eloquent elaboration of the adage "Stand for something or you'll fall for anything."

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