Flyin' West and Blues for an Alabama Sky | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Flyin' West and Blues for an Alabama Sky 

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Atlanta playwright Pearl Cleage describes her characters as "fast-talking, quick-thinking black women," and that's certainly true of the heroines in these two historical dramas from the 90s, now playing in strong revivals. Flyin' West, at Court Theatre, is set in 1890s Kansas; it details the struggle of an all-female household to save their farm from a self-hating self-described mulatto in league with white land speculators. In Eclipse Theatre Company's Blues for an Alabama Sky, a showgirl in Depression-era Harlem agrees to marry a man whose fundamentalist Christian values put him on a collision course with her circle, which includes a gay costume designer and an advocate for birth control. Cleage may call herself a "child of the Black Arts Movement and the Woodstock Generation," but she knows how to connect with everyone. Her plays are entertaining, potent tragicomedies that fuse lessons in black history with boldly drawn characters, crackling dialogue, suspenseful plots, tender romance, explosive violence, and a rich vein of droll humor. a Flyin' West, through 4/8: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 and 7:30 PM, Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, 773-753-4472, $36-$54. Blues for an Alabama Sky, through 4/19: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000, $18-$22.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Flyin' West photo/ Michael Brosilow.

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