The last play of the 2019 Block Party, the Anteaus Theater’s production of “Native Son” offers the reminder that fear is the seed of pain, and pain is the price we all pay to live in an unjust world.
Using the acclaimed novel as the starting point, Nambi E. Kelley’s script begins with the crisis at the top of the plot, and then moves both forward and backwards through time to tell the tale.
For those not familiar with Richard Wright’s novel “Native Son, ” know that this is an intense work on racism, human frailty and social pressure. Bigger Thomas is a man who is caught in the cogs of the machine, striving for his own sense of humanity in the early 20th century streets of Chicago. Hired for a job he doesn’t want, he is pressured into being treated as a ‘pet’ by a young woman whose interest in him does not allow him either distance or dignity. His fear of being caught in an inappropriate situation – which will lead to his being fired, or worse – culminates into a tragedy that tears apart everyone he is connected to.
Brilliantly directed by Andi Chapman, the use use of film projections on the set creates another layer of reality, and the two actors who play two aspects of Bigger Thomas reflect on the multiple selves we all posses. With a sense of timing that almost plays as choreography, we see the distance between intention and reality widening into a spiral whose center cannot hold.
The excellent company of actors, Noel Arthur, Gigi Bermingham, Jon Chaffin, Ellis Greer, Matthew Grondin, Mildred Marie Langford, Ned Mochel, Victoria Platt and Brandon Rachal, all offer performances that seethe with expression. The need to be human cannot be ignored.
Closing the ‘Block Party’ means “Native Son” is only up for the rest of this week- Tonight April 23 until Sunday April 28, 2019. Don’t miss it.
For tickets, go to www.centertheatregroup.org
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